This may shock some of you (especially those who know me as the most “liberal” sister): I’m not feeling the whole “panda conservation” thing.  

Since discovering the joys of the San Diego Zoo webcam, I have spent a lot of time observing the pandas (I’ve been keeping a browser open with it on my other monitor as I work- it amuses me to look at when my gorgeous view of the mountains becomes boring).  They really aren’t that different than cows- just fuzzier.  They just sit with a ton of food on their fat bellies and eat, and eat, and eat.  Sometimes, to shake things up a bit, they walk over to a new pile of food, and eat some more.

I read an interesting article a while ago that made a case AGAINST panda conservation.  Evolutionarily speaking, they are kind of duds. They only eat one kind of nutrient-poor food that only grows at a single elevation. They have all kinds of difficulties mating and produce less-than-robust offspring.

I’m beginning to agree with Chris Packham, a prominent conservationist, that while the panda’s cute, cuddliness makes it a good poster child for raising conservation funds, those funds may be more useful dedicated to frog conservation (huge problem, frog species are dying out all over south/central America) or other species that are vital to ecosystems.

On a more amusing note I just read this in this Discovery magazine article :

 The panda has been called “possibly one of the grossest wastes of conservation money in the last half century” by conservationist Chris Packham, president of Britain’s Bat Conservation Trust. In fact, he insists that he “would eat the last panda” if the resources devoted to them could be transferred to “more sensible things.”

Food for thought.

February 26, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.