At a time when we crave good news, the giant panda is a beacon of environmental optimism. Since becoming an icon for the conservation movement in the 1980s, 67 panda reserves and countless wildlife corridors have been created in the bamboo forested mountain ranges of central China. The most recent census suggests all that effort has paid off. There are 1,864 pandas living in the wild today, up from 1,000 in the late 1970s.
But in a new study, researchers discovered that what’s good for the panda may not necessarily be good for the rest of the ecosystem. After studying images from camera traps over ten years, they found that large carnivores – the leopard, snow leopard, wolf and dhole (an Asian wild dog) – have retreated from where giant pandas have thrived. MORE