Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Red pandas are two species, not one

The red panda is not one species but two, according to DNA evidence. They are already endangered due to hunting and habitat loss and conservation efforts are now even more critical, say scientists. 
The red panda lives in the mountainous forests of China, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, where numbers are down to a few thousand individuals and decreasing every day. Two varieties have long been suspected based on physical features. Chinese red pandas have redder fur and striped tail rings, while Himalayan pandas have whiter faces. Himalayan red panda needs more urgent protection, because of its lower genetic diversity, and small population size.

Researchers in China analysed the DNA of 65 wild red pandas. This revealed two separate species which went their own separate ways after populations were divided by a river about 250 thousand years ago.
Mike Jordan, director of plants and animals at Chester Zoo, which has a pair of red pandas, says the genetic evidence allows us to say they're considered to be completely different species, rather than variations of one species. The population is down to what may only be a few thousand. 

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) was initially considered a relative of the raccoon because of features such as its ringed tail, and then thought to be related to bears. It is now known to be in a family of its own and one of the most evolutionary distinct and globally endangered mammals in the world. The mammal is illegally hunted for its fur in southwest China, especially for its highly valued bushy tail from which hats are produced.

Being two different species means conservation action plans can be specific to the two different species needs and requirements. Due to the fragmentation of their natural habitat, small numbers, and niche food requirements they are on the border of extinction.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)