Panda Research Leads Scientists To Great Discovery

After the ban on GPS tracking of the endangered species of the giant panda that has lasted for almost a decade, finally new research has provided insights into the social behavior of these elusive creatures.

The very recent study was published in the Journal of Mammalogy by researchers from the Michigan State University, and provides evidence that the once thought solitary animals actually have complex social lives.

The methodology used to get the data was pretty straight-forward. Researchers simply attached GPS collars to some specimens, which allowed them to watch how the bears reacted on the own, free from any human presence.

The ground-breaking research lasted over 2 years to collect enough data. There were five specimens selected, all selected from China’s Wolong Nature Reserve. The scientists named all five pandas which is customary in working so closely with specimens. There was Long Long, Pan Pan, Mei Mei, and Zhong Zhong, who were all females, and Chuan Chuan, the only male panda research involved.

One aspect of the giant panda’s social life that was examined was the panda’s sex lives. This is important research because it could be helpful in helping the endangered species reclaim some dominance in the wild.

It was once though that adults prefer time in isolation, which could eventually lead to extinction. However, the study completely nulled these once thought true assertions. Three of the females spent lots of time together, several weeks, also traveling little compared to male specimen, Chuan Chuan, who did keep regular visits to the females.

The research might suggest that male pandas keep several female partners at one time, as all the monitored females seemed loyal to Chuan Chuan.

Researchers admit that the results are inconclusive as the sample size was very small, because GPS tracking was only recently allowed by the Chinese government. The collars were designed to fall off after 2 years.

The research also suggested the pandas move around a lot in search of food, pretty much clearing an area of food and moving on. The pandas also use a tracing system where they rub their smelly glands on a tree in order to leave markers for other specimens and keep track of their favorite food areas.

The giant panda is still considered endangered, although the wild population has shown signs of recovery with a 17 percent increase in population of 1,864 specimens.

Deforestation and climate change are the most dangerous risk factors for the giant panda.

If you would like to travel to see the panda in their natural habitat they are native to south central China but they are in zoos around the world.