Panda bear habitat

Panda bear habitat

The typical panda bear habitat is mountainous forest regions with plenty of bamboo. Such environments are commonly found at altitudes from 2700 to 3900 m (8850 to 12,800'), but the panda bear can descend down to 800 m (2600') during the cold season in search of warmer temperatures. Human dwellings in mountainous regions can however make the panda bear refrain from doing this and instead make it stay in the less populated, but cold, parts of the mountain even during the winter. 

Suitable panda bear habitat is found in the mountainous regions of Southwest China as well as in the temperate Chinese forests. Earlier, the occupied panda bear habitat extended throughout a large part of southern and eastern China, northern Vietnam and northern Burma. The decline of the panda population and the loss of panda bear habitat is not a 20th century problem; it has occurred throughout the last millennium. The panda bear was considered a rare species even in ancient China. Hunting and climate change are believed to have been the two major factors contributing to the constant decline of this extraordinary species.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the panda bear habitat had been reduced to one single region – the Chinese Qinling Mountains. These mountains are located along the edge of the Tibetan plateau and acts as a border between the North China Plain and the Yangtze River Delta. South of the panda bear habitat, you will find highly populated regions along the Yangtze River. As mentioned above, the Qinling Mountains was the only remaining panda bear habitat during the early 1900’s, and the agricultural expansion soon separated the area into six disconnected regions dispersed over six different mountain ranges. The mountain ranges in which you could find remaining panda bear habitat was Daxiangling, Liang, Min, Qinling, Qionglai and Xiaoxiangling.

Today, you can still find panda bear habitat in parts of these six mountain ranges. The panda bear habitat is located in the Sichun, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces and wild panda bear is found nowhere else in the world. The entire panda bear range in the Qinling Mountains comprises an area of roughly 30,000 square kilometres (11,500 square miles). Most experts do however agree that less than 20 percent of this region represents occupied panda bear habitat.

The panda bear habitat is found in one of the most biologically rich temperature forests on the planet. Since several peaks are taller than 3000 meters, the Qinling Mountains will function as a barrier against the cool and dry air that travels from the north. On the southern slopes, a warm and protected environment is therefore created – ideal for the bamboo plants on which the panda bear depend. The southern slopes will also receive plenty of warm rains that make prolific growth possible and you will find a rich variety of endemic species in this part of the world. The typical panda bear habitat is not only filled with bamboo plants, but other exotic species such as Rhododendron, Ginkgo, Chinese yew and Qinling fir trees as well.

In the panda bear habitat, the male panda will often have a home range that overlaps several home ranges of female pandas. The male panda’s home range can even overlap the home ranges of nearby males, since the panda is quite a docile species. A female will usually let the amount of bamboo determine the size of her home range, while the male panda is affected by the availability of fertile female pandas. 

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