Habitat loss is the greatest cause of the decline of the giant panda. Large areas of China's natural forest have been cleared for agriculture, timber and firewood to meet the needs of the large and growing human population (4). Bamboo undergoes periodic dieback every 40 - 60 years and swathes of a species will disappear. Previously, pandas would migrate to find alternative bamboo sources; today however, only fragments of forest remain and this is no longer possible, causing populations to be even more vulnerable (7). Despite strong protection measures, pandas are still occassionally killed for their pelts and are accidentally captured in traps.
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