Giant pandas are one of the most endangered animals in the world. However, their population has been decreasing for the past few years.
This makes you wonder, do giant pandas get poached?
Yes, giant pandas get poached. Most times, giant pandas get poached during hunting in the wild. This has led to a serious decline in the population of the giant panda species.
As a result, they are no longer as populous as they used to be.
Before we discuss the reasons why hunters poach them, let’s first explain what poaching exactly means.
Table of Contents
- What Does Poaching Mean?
- Why Do Giant Pandas Get Poached?
- How Many Giant Pandas Are Poached Each Year?
- Laws That Protect Pandas from Being Poached
- How to Save Giant Pandas from Being Poached
What Does Poaching Mean?
Poaching means illegally hunting or catching wild animals. Most animals, especially wild animals are illegally hunted for or killed by hunters for selfish reasons.
It could also mean an illegal method of entering another man’s home or farm to hunt for animals without permission.
Giant pandas are usually poached by hunters. This is the major reason for the enactment of the wildlife protection Art in 1988.
As promised, let’s discuss the 3 main reasons why pandas get poached.
Why Do Giant Pandas Get Poached?
1. Their Furs Are Invaluable
When you look closely at the giant pandas, you will find out they have furs.
Poachers see the furs as valuable items. As a result, they begin to poach the giant pandas so they can take their furs for themselves.
Interestingly, panda fur is rough and quite wooly to the touch.
When these furs are poached, the hunters sell them for between $60,00-$100,000.
These furs are used to make several clothing materials. Such as hats, bags, and sweaters.
2. For Sport
A lot of people tend to wander into the forest for sport and other forms of entertainment. They come armed with guns and might decide to engage in a shooting competition. This is usually done for fun.
Since the giant pandas reside in these forests, they may decide to hunt them down just for the sake of it.
3. For Money
Most people who intentionally hunt for giant pandas do so for money.
Now, the giant panda’s furs are very valuable materials. When sold, the hunters are likely to make lots of money from it.
This is usually the driving force for most hunters who hunt for panda furs. The giant panda’s furs could be used for hats or caps as the case may be.
Check Out: Can Giant Pandas Run Fast?
How Many Giant Pandas Are Poached Each Year?
Although a total of 10,000 pandas die yearly, 7,000 die from deforestation while the remaining 3,000 are likely to die from poaching.
This is usually carried out by either a hunter who poaches them for their furs. Otherwise, the giant pandas are poached by individuals looking for sport, and entertainment.
However, this was not usually the number of giant pandas poached per year. It was reduced to six per year due to the Wildlife Protection Act enacted in 1988.
This law has helped to reduce the giant panda’s poaching to the barest minimum. Also, this has helped to retain the giant panda’s population which is about 1,800 to date.
CHECK OUT: DO GIANT PANDAS LIVE IN CHINA?
Laws That Protect Pandas from Being Poached
Law of Protection of wildlife
In 1988, the law of the People’s republic of China on the protection of wildlife was created. This law was made to help protect the giant panda’s existence.
Tracing back the years 1970 to 1980, the giant panda’s lives were seriously threatened.
This law seeks the protection of wildlife including the giant pandas.
It is a law guiding man’s approach to animals in the forest. With the law of protection of Wildlife, the giant pandas are safe from harm and poaching.
Anyone found breaking this law is liable to at least 10 years in imprisonment.
In other cases, the offender might be asked to pay some amount of money. Otherwise, the offender’s assets (e.g. house, car) can be seized.
Law of the Forest
The law of the forest was made in 1984.
This law of the forest specifically looks after all inhabitants of the forest. These include; plants, trees, and animals.
It has helped to control the excessive hunting of the giant pandas which is a part of the forest.
Law of Environmental Protection
The law of environmental protection was made in 1989.
This law was made to help protect or safeguard the living environment, as well as the ecological factors affecting an area. It was also aimed at protecting human and animal life.
This way, animals get to live in a safe environment, while safeguarding human health.
Since there are laws that protect giant pandas from being poached, what happens when one is caught poaching?
What is the Penalty for Panda Poachers?
Panda poachers face the risk of getting punished for illegally hunting pandas. This was possible due to the laws protecting wildlife and pandas’ existence.
In other words, anyone caught poaching a giant panda is prone to face grave consequences.
Here, is the penalty for panda poachers;
- A sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment
According to criminal law, if anyone is found stealing, hunting, or killing giant pandas, the person is likely to face more than 10 years of imprisonment.
Depending on the gravity of the offense, it could either be 10 years or more than that.
- A Huge Fine
Most times, a prison sentence is usually accompanied by a fine.
The poacher will be fined according to how severe the case is. Also, their properties will be seized.
The fine is about USD 35,000 (236,012.00 Chinese Yuan)
If it is found to be a minor case, the poacher is likely to pay a small fine. But if it is more severe, they will be asked to pay a high fine.
- Death Penalty
In 1987, the Chinese government made a statement stating another penalty against panda poachers.
Poachers who killed a panda or two are likely to face the death penalty.
- Life sentence
Under very grave circumstances, a panda poacher will face a life sentence. This happens when panda poachers badly hurt a panda.
Otherwise, if more than one panda is killed, the poachers will face a life sentence.
What are the Effects of Panda Poaching on the Environment?
- Reduction in Population
A reduction in the giant panda’s population is one of the causes of poaching to the environment. The more pandas are poached, the more their population decreases.
No doubt, the current population of giant pandas is low. There are about 1,800 left in the wild.
A study was carried out on the nature of the giant panda’s reduction in population.
This showed that poaching the female giant pandas put them at a high risk of going into extinction.
However, this was different from the male adult pandas, and the young ones. In other words, constant poaching of the female pandas makes them go into extinction faster.
- Loss of animals in the zoo
Constant poaching of the panda species will likely lead to little or no animals in the zoo.
The zoo serves several purposes for different people. It is either for sightseeing, recreation, or relaxation.
However, most people come to zoos to see wild animals. These animals are not easily seen because they live far from humans.
So, when these pandas are constantly hunted and killed, there will likely not be animals left in the zoo.
- Loss of habitat
Every animal deserves a comfortable habitat and so do the giant pandas.
A giant panda’s natural habitat enables them to feed well, and even reproduce.
However, the giant pandas are a set of endangered species.
Poaching puts them at risk of losing their habitat. It is either they are changing their location or they find themselves in an unfit environment.
Now you have seen the severe effects of panda poaching on the environment. What should be done to safeguard these pandas from poaching?
How to Save Giant Pandas from Being Poached
Below are the best ways to save the giant pandas from being poached;
- Donating to organizations that help pandas
- Constructing parks for natural reservation of the pandas
- Expanding the giant panda’s natural habitat
- Enacting laws against illegal encroachment, hunting, and poaching.
- Enforcing the protection of the giant pandas
Poaching is one of the major causes of the giant panda’s extinction.
These poachers kill the giant pandas and sell their furs and skin for money. As a result, this has led to about 6 pandas being poached per year.
Fortunately, there are certain laws put in place to protect giant pandas’ lives.
These include; laws of protection of wildlife, laws of the forest, etc.
With these laws in place, poachers face the risk of being severely punished when caught. Preventing the giant panda’s poaching could be done in several ways.
If you want to learn more about Giant pandas, their lifestyle, and their habitat, check out my article “Do Giant Pandas Migrate?”.