The giant panda is a global icon of species conservation, and holds special significance for WWF.

Since 1961, when WWF was first formed, the panda has been the symbol of the organisation and its work to protect biodiversity. Giant pandas are recognised around the world for their distinctive black and white coats. They have evolved to feed primarily on bamboo, and consume up to 12.5 kg every day in order to meet their energy requirements. Pandas are also excellent climbers, with cubs able to clamber up tree trunks when they are just six months old. Today, giant pandas are only found in the Qinling, Minshan, Qionglai Shan, Liangshan, Daxiangling, and Xiaoxiang Mountains of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces. They inhabit deciduous broadleaf, mixed conifer, and subalpine coniferous forests between elevations of 1200-1300 metres above sea level. Ongoing conservation work has improved the number of pandas in the wild, providing hope that it is possible to reverse the decline of species populations through sustained action and political will. The results of China’s Fourth National Giant Panda Survey, conducted with help from WWF and released in 2015, estimated that there were 1,864 wild pandas - a 17% increase in just a decade. However, the long-term survival of these charismatic animals continues to be threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, so ongoing commitment is critical.

Factsheet: Giant pandas

What we're doing

See our conservation work on the giant panda.
Mixed forest in the mist. Giant panda habitat.  Qin Ling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China
© Michel Gunther / WWF

Bamboo corridors

One third of wild pandas are found outside of protected areas. WWF is working to expand and protect vital panda habitat, which involves creating new reserves that link existing panda populations across China. These bamboo corridors allow pandas to move to new areas, find more food, and meet potential breeding mates.

WWF energy efficient wood stoves project, in cooperation with local government, nature reserve staff, and indigenous communities, in the Panda Landscape, Liangshan, Sichuan Province, China.

Village life. Farming, Long Wo township, Neng He Village. A Luo Zi (male farmer) Ji Ke Jin Pu (female farmer), Long Wo township, Neng He Village
© Wang Yue

Community development

The long-term survival of giant pandas is dependent on community development, to ensure China’s large - and growing - human population can live in harmony with nature. WWF is working on a variety of community projects in the Minshan and Qinling Mountains that aim to help local families establish a sustainable income, promote local products such as honey, pepper, walnuts and potatoes, provide villages with alternative energy solutions, and engage communities in panda conservation.

Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) with a young cub in Shaanxi province, China.
© WWF China / Yong Yange

Research and monitoring

Ongoing research of giant panda populations helps to shape conservation strategies. WWF works with governments, researchers, universities and other conservation organisations to learn more about these animals. Sensor cameras, for example, are an important research tool as they help collect information about pandas in their remote, mountain habitat.

Giant panda eating bamboo {Ailuropoda melanoleuca} Wolong NR, Qionglai mts, Sichuan, China
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) resting at top of tree trunk, Sichuan, China, captive
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) resting at top of tree trunk, Sichuan, China, captive © / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

Species bio

Common Name

Giant panda

Scientific Name

Ailuropoda melanoleuca


Giant pandas grow to 150 cm and weight between 80 and 150 kg. They live in temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of southwest China.There are 1,864 giant pandas left in the wild.  


Listed as Vulnerable (under IUCN Red List).

Why it matters

Giant pandas are found in an important global biodiversity hotspot in southwest China. Protection of their habitat is important for many other endangered species including the takin goat-antelope, golden monkey, red panda and crested ibis.

The forests that giant pandas inhabit are also home to millions of people. Conservation work in this region benefits local communities, who rely on this natural habitat as a source of food, water and income.

Giant panda baby (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) aged 5 months, Wolong Nature Reserve, China, Captive
© Eric Baccega / / WWF

Did you know?

A newborn panda cub is roughly 1/900th the size of its mother.


What you can do to help

  • Adopt a panda and help to protect three million hectares of forest that is the wild home and food supply of giant pandas.
  • Support sustainable forestry by purchasing products with FSC certification.
  • Panda tourism is on the rise. The Chinese Government and WWF are now working on ways to reduce the impact of tourism on panda habitats.