Pandas Threatened by Loss of Bamboo

Up to half of the world’s 1,200 species of woody bamboo are in danger of extinction because of deforestation, and their demise would spell big trouble for the animals that depend on them for sustenance, including one of nature’s cuddliest critters, the giant panda. A study released today by the U.N.’s World Conservation Monitoring Center and the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan details the demise of bamboo, revealing that some 250 species have an area of about 1,200 square miles of forest left within their ranges. Woody bamboo not only provides habitat for a host of species, but is worth some $2 billion in annual trade. Along with the so-cute-you-could-just-pinch-’em pandas, who subsist almost entirely on bamboo, the Himalayan black bear, mountain gorilla, and less-cute-but-still-worth-saving lesser bamboo bat are imperiled by the slow destruction of the tall, wild grasses where they eat and make their homes.