Are Pandas too Popular?
By Luca Inamoto-Martinez
In 1980, there were less than 1,200 Giant Pandas. Their future looked grim and it was possible that they were going to be extinct. Today that population has more than doubled to 2,500! For 30 years, Giant Pandas have been conserved by China and the world, and this conservation effort has worked very successfully! This is because according to Forbes.com, humans donate between $2.6 billion and $6.9 billion a year to help these adorable creatures. And it’s not surprising. As a direct result of how cute they are, people decide to donate to them instead of animals who are “uglier,” and this is a major issue. Even though Giant Pandas are now off the endangered species list, (yay!) They’re still getting a chunk of money, and more endangered—but more “ugly” animals—that need the money more aren’t getting it.
Some animals that are “uglier'' than Giant Pandas but need more help than them are the Proboscis Monkey, California Condor, the Titicaca Water Frog, and the Purple Pig-Nosed Frog.
Let's talk about the Proboscis Monkey. Yes, that nose they have is pretty ridiculous, but they are amazing creatures that need help. Today there are fewer than 5,000. You may be confused because that’s twice the size of the Giant Panda population, but Giant Pandas look to have a brighter future. In the last 30 years, the Giant Panda population has gone up by more than 50% while the Proboscis Monkey population has gone down by almost 80%. So obviously the Proboscis Monkey needs more help than the Giant Panda. Also, Proboscis Monkeys may not only need more help than pandas, but they might be more important to save than pandas. This is because Proboscis Monkeys are considered umbrella species. Umbrella species are species that other species depend on for survival. For example, Proboscis Monkeys are umbrella species because their main diet is fruit, and when they eat the fruit they help disperse the seeds, making more trees grow. And many animals that live in the Proboscis Monkeys area, depend on trees. For a long time, Giant Pandas have been considered an umbrella species. But according to a New York Times article called, “For Shielding Endangered Neighbors, Pandas Make Flimsy Umbrellas,” pandas aren’t really doing their job well. Actually, for some animals, the protection of pandas is negatively affecting them. This is because, as quoted from the article, “Most panda reserves consist of bamboo forests at high elevation, which is not ideal for all wildlife.”
Another way you can donate that is better than donating to Giant Pandas is by donating to a place. This is helpful because, instead of just helping one animal, you help all the biodiversity that lives in that place. Some places you can donate to are: Chinese rainforests, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Sahara Desert.
Why don’t we talk about the Chinese Rainforests? As you may know, Giant Pandas live in the Chinese Rainforests, as do Red Pandas, Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys, Asian Elephants, and Clouded Leopards. Now, if you donated to help Giant Pandas, that means your money is being used to make sure that Giant Pandas can breed safely and that those Giant Pandas don’t get hunted. That’s really good because it helps the Giant Pandas. But if you donate to the Chinese Rainforest, your money is used to make it stricter for illegal logging in the Chinese Rainforest. That helps Giant Pandas and all other diversity that lives in the Chinese Forests. Which one do you think is better to donate to?
In conclusion, it’s not the pandas’ fault that they receive excessive amounts of money. It’s not like right now they’re sitting in a tree counting how much money they have. To be honest, right now most of the pandas in the world are sleeping or eating. That’s because they spend about 10 hours a day sleeping and 10 to 16 hours a day eating.