Photo by @amivitale. Baby pandas play in their baskets at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center in #Sichuan Province, China. They are part of a bumper crop of adorable baby giant panda cubs. In a region where bad environmental news is common, this is important news. China is on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador. Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. Fewer than 2,000 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi.
Photo by @amivitale. Ye Ye, a 16-year-old giant panda, takes in some sun in a wild enclosure at a conservation center in Wolong Nature Reserve while her cub, Hua Yan (Pretty Girl), is plays on the ground beside her. Baby pandas wean from their mothers between 8-9 months and a year old and generally stay with their mothers for 2 years. After that, Hua Yan will be released into the wild. The success rate of giant panda's reintroduction is about 60 percent, while the rate for other animals in the world is only around 10 percent.
Photo by @amivitale. Two-year-old female panda Hua Yan (Pretty Girl) explores her enclosure at the Wolong Nature Reserve managed by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan province, China. She was released together with Zhang Meng at the Liziping National Nature Reserve as the sixth and seventh pandas released into the wild. In addition to the inevitable threats from natural enemies such as bears, leopards and wolves, a main concern is that she is accepted by the local wild panda group and breeds successfully.Habitat loss and fragmentation have separated panda groups and China has at least 30 isolated groups each with less than 50 pandas.Without help, the wild panda groups could die out within a century.
It was a great privilege to speak with one of my favorite people @cristinamittermeier on BBC Radio recently. Christina is incredibly #INSPIRING and she talked about photographing a starving polar bear recently which may be the #catalyst for renewed awareness in the fight against climate change. We also discussed what drives us, the challenges in the field, and how we use our photography and voices to inspire #change. You can listen to the full interview on the website of @bbcnews.
Photo by @amivitale. A playful baby panda tries to hitch a ride on the shoe cover of a panda keeper at the Chengdu Panda Base in Sichuan Province, China. Giant pandas don’t roar like other bears, but bleat like goats or honk, growl and bark to communicate.
Habitat loss and reliance on bamboo brought pandas to the brink of extinction, but years of research have helped scientists crack the code to breeding pandas in captivity, and increasing efforts to preserve pandas’ habitat may help ensure their future. With an adult population estimated at more than 1,864 wild pandas and 500 captive pandas, they have been upgraded from endangered to threatened.
My first book, Panda Love, comes out in June. It documents the efforts to breed pandas and release them back into the wild. I had unprecedented access and this collection gives insight into these adorable bears' lives in both the sanctuaries and their natural habitat. Fluffy panda cubs tumble out of baskets and play hide-and-seek with their caregivers, while adult pandas curiously explore the forest and climb trees. China is on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador. Follow along in Panda Love on this incredible journey of putting the wild back into an icon.
Photo by @amivitale. Twelve year old mother giant panda, Si Xue explores her enclosure at the Wolong China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan Province, China. Because of their low-energy diet, pandas avoid stressful situations and exertion.