China’s resilient bamboo forests provide shelter and food for the ecosystem’s innumerable wildlife species. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide, prevents erosion, and can filter water. These forests are also essential to the giant panda, one of the country’s most beloved and iconic animals.
With their thick stalks and leafy branches, bamboo plants make up over 99% of a panda’s diet.
“Pandas evolved with a carnivore’s digestive system, which means they are born lacking the key plant-processing gut bacteria they need. During weaning, a seemingly affectionate exchange between mother and baby may be a way of passing her cub crucial bamboo-digesting microbes through her saliva.”
Watch how this panda mom nurtures her cub in this clip from China: Nature’s Ancient Kingdom.
More about the conservation project, home to around 1,864 giant pandas, at National-Parks.org:
“The national park accounts for 80% of the Chinese giant panda population. Apart from the small number of pandas located in zoos around the world, all other giant pandas are found within China…
“The combination of these over 60 panda reserves is a dedicated commitment by the Chinese government to invest and protect these magnificent creatures. The good news is there is evidence that it appears that the population is growing. The IUCN has upgraded the species from endangered to threatened. Although this improvement is positive, there is much the world needs to do to help secure the survival of the species.”
Watch these related videos next:
• Giant pandas and their bamboo-only diet
• A giant panda gives birth to twin baby pandas (and doesn’t realize she’s raising both)
• Why do baby koalas eat their mothers’ poop?
• How does the food you eat affect your gut?