Source: Nature: "The Panda Baby"
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Fewer than 1,000 pandas remain in the wild in the mountains of China due to the enormous demands China’s human population puts on the land. Farming and logging are robbing pandas of the forests where they once lived. However, reserves have been set aside by the Chinese government to save land for the pandas and for centers such as the Wolong Conservation Center for Giant Pandas where they have succeeded in breeding cubs in captivity. This video segment features scientists in China who are studying the panda population of Bamboo Mountain. Learn more about China's Pandas in the video "Wolong's Pandas," part of this video series from Nature.
Science, endangered animals, social studies, geography
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary or middle school students using this video in an English language arts or science lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) What does it mean to do research? What kinds of research have you done? What have you used to gather information for your research?
Focus (ELA) What kind of research is being done on pandas? How do the researchers collect their information?
Follow Up (ELA) What type of research would you like to do? How would you collect your information for your research? Explain why your answer is the best way to collect information for this type of research.
Frame (SCI) How can human needs affect animals in the wild?
Focus (SCI) How are human needs affecting the needs of the wild pandas?
Follow Up (SCI) Competition from other humans can affect the types of animals an ecosystem can support. Discuss solutions for this competition.
NARRATOR: With so many irresistible new cubs, Wolong has become a tourist attraction.
And more success has followed. In the year 2000, Wolong broke even its record with eleven new cubs. China’s breeding program is finally going strong.
Wolong’s success gives us a certain optimism about the future of Giant pandas. But with this comes another problem. What will we do with this surplus of captive cubs?
Their natural habitat is vanishing.
China’s human population puts enormous demands on the land. Farming and logging are clearing the forests where pandas once lived.
Pandas are pushed higher and higher up the mountains into the toughest terrain where there’s less to eat.
To combat this problem, the Chinese government has set aside 32 reserves for the Giant panda. But the reserves are spread far apart and fragmented.
RON SWAISGOOD: The panda population is actually split into all these little small islands of populations and there’s no exchange of individuals between these areas. One of the applications of our scent research might be to take these scents and put them in habitat corridors that we put between these islands and this may indeed encourage the pandas to come down out of one island, traverse through the corridor and up to another island. And this will give genetic exchange and reduce the problems of inbreeding in these small populations.
NARRATOR: But panda field work is still tackling the basics. Researcher Matt Durnin joins Chinese colleagues here at nine thousand feet to study pandas in the wild.
Matt is trying to find out just how many pandas are left and where they are.
It’s thought that less than one thousand remain. But no one really knows.
MATT DURNIN: I’ve been in the field three years and I’ve only seen one panda in the wild. Which is obviously very frustrating.
NARRATOR: Twenty years ago, researchers relied on live animal traps...like this one. The pandas were radio collared and released.
Today, new technology gives us a way to study pandas without actually ever seeing them. This ‘high tech’ method uses a simple barbed wire. The wire plucks hairs off the animals as they walk underneath.
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