The Last Panda
Overview - Today only about 1,000 giant pandas survive in the wild. Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo on the one hand, and threatened by human greed and indifference on the other, the panda is at extreme risk. As recently reported in Time, a live panda can bring $112,000 on the Chinese black market. Read more...
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More About The Last Panda by George B. Schaller
Today only about 1,000 giant pandas survive in the wild. Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo on the one hand, and threatened by human greed and indifference on the other, the panda is at extreme risk. As recently reported in Time, a live panda can bring $112,000 on the Chinese black market. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, black marketeers charge buyers $10,000 or more for a panda pelt. At the same time, Western zoos pay millions to rent the ever-popular pandas for exhibit. Because the panda has become a lucrative commodity, protecting it in the wild seems a near impossible task. George Schaller and his Chinese colleagues were the first to make a detailed study of pandas in the wild. This book recounts their groundbreaking research on the panda in its dwindling native habitat and in the midst of political problems as troubling as any natural threat. Schaller forces us to confront the question: Can this extraordinary creature, survivor of countless threats from nature, survive its own popularity? In 1980, Schaller went into the mountains of Sichuan province to study the panda - a species considered a national treasure in China - on behalf of the Chinese government and the World Wildlife Fund. For over four and a half years, he and his wife, Kay, lived in the forests of the Wolong panda reserve, monitoring the lives of the pandas, recording their travels, fights, courtships, and deaths. In fog and rain and snow, over steep mountains, they tracked not only pandas but also such rare creatures as golden monkeys, red pandas, and takins. This is the story of the Schallers' remarkable journey - told with the evocative power that is George Schaller's gift. But The Last Panda is more thansuperb natural history. It is a frank, disturbing account of good intentions gone dangerously wrong; of pandas left unprotected from poaching; of deadly traps set by poor villagers hunting within nature preserves; of the greed that drives the rent-a-panda programs; of simple bureaucratic bungling; and of the economic and political pressures that distort the priorities of international conservation efforts. The panda, Schaller tells us, can survive. A realistic plan to save the species does exist. It is his hope that The Last Panda, so urgent and eloquent in its description of the mysterious denizens of China's bamboo forests, will awaken the compassion that must save the panda from extinction.