Most panda reserves encompass bamboo forests at excessive elevation, which isn’t superb for all wildlife. The researchers discovered that two threatened species, Asiatic black bears and forest musk deer, actively misplaced key habitat in essentially the most intensively protected panda areas. And in locations the place habitat modified for the higher for forest musk deer and Asiatic black bears, in addition to for 2 different cloven-hoofed species, Chinese language serow and Reeve’s muntjac, it modified for the more serious for pandas. “Now we all know that after we’re defending pandas, we’re dropping Asiatic black bears, musk deer and doubtless many different species,” Dr. Wang mentioned.
The findings echo analysis printed final summer season by a few of Dr. Wang’s colleagues, which discovered that panda conservation had not helped large carnivores in China, like leopards, wolves and snow leopards.
David Lindenmayer, a conservation biologist on the Australian Nationwide College in Canberra, who was not concerned within the analysis, mentioned the brand new panda findings bolstered ongoing considerations concerning the umbrella species strategy to conservation. Whereas pandas and different high-profile species are nice for fund-raising and campaigning, uncommon animals often have very particular habitat necessities. Efforts to preserve a whole ecosystem seldom align with the wants of those extra charismatic species, Dr. Lindenmayer mentioned.
“There’s a have to be very sober in making choices about what species are chosen and why, and what species can and can’t work as helpful surrogates,” he mentioned. “In any other case, severe errors get made.”
In China, reception to the panda findings has been blended, Dr. Wang mentioned. “Some folks mentioned it’s simply frequent sense that species want their very own habitat, however others requested me why I wrote an article in English criticizing our nice success in panda conservation.”
Dr. Wang was involved that the federal government can be displeased, however to this point, he mentioned, the response has been largely optimistic. “They’ve began to speak about incorporating a multispecies monitoring community within the new Large Panda Nationwide Park” in Central China, he mentioned. “They will not be completely happy about this discovering, however I believe they’re transferring ahead to keep away from comparable outcomes being repeated.”
Some change is already occurring on the bottom. World Extensive Fund for Nature-China, for instance, which works with the Chinese language authorities, lately added snow leopards to its conservation technique.