BBC nature presenter Chris Packham has caused some upset with his statement that we should “pull the plug” on the giant panda.
“Here’s a species that, of its own accord, has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species. Unfortunately it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol of the WWF, and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity,” said Packham.
Living in the mountains of China, pandas are considered an endangered species with various guesses on their actual population from fewer than 1,600 worldwide to less than 2,500 pandas in the wild, with about 250 in captivity. The leading factor in the pandas dwindling population is loss of habitat as a result of human development.
While Packham may have pushed the envelope with his comments, he raised a point regarding the efforts and expenses used to protect only one species because it’s cute when we could be using these resources to protect larger areas of critical habitat.
However, those on the other side easily counteract his argument by pointing out that by protecting the panda’s habitat, or the habitat of any larger species, will act as an umbrella aiding other flora and fauna that live there, preserving biodiversity in the area.
Despite its elusiveness, the panda doesn’t live in isolation. It’s part of a community of other animals, plants and trees that work together in a balance that allows all creation to continue. If the panda, or any species, is lost, no one knows how its link in this web will be filled or what impact it will have on the future of nature.