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As of 2010, the total population of the giant panda stands at less than 2,500, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The giant panda lives in a very particular ecosystem that supports more than just this species.
As of 2010, the giant panda only resides in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Shanxi in Central China. Pandas are spread out over 29,500 square kilometers, but the panda only inhabits 5,900 square kilometers of that land.
The giant panda feasts on bamboo, so it only lives in ecosystems with plenty of forest land that contains broad-leaf plants, or coniferous (cone or needle bearing) plants.
Since 2005, the Chinese government has conserved 45 percent of the panda's natural habitat, which contains about 60 percent of the giant pandas in the wild.
The giant panda's ecosystem also holds other endangered plants and animals not found anywhere else. The people who live in the Yangtze Basin (Central China) rely heavily on the economics benefits, such as tourism and agriculture, provided by this ecosystem.
In general, giant pandas do not reproduce outside of their natural ecosystem. Thus, once the panda's natural ecosystem goes, the panda also will likely go extinct.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chi King