Panda numbers are finally increasing, but the animals find themselves scattered and fragmented across China in 30 separate groups, with each group isolated from the others. The separation could cause numbers to dwindle again due to lack of opportunities for breeding. The Chinese government has unveiled a plan to combat the fragmentation by creating a huge national park in southwestern China. Giant Panda National Park will cover 10,476 square miles which is nearly triple the area of Yellowstone National Park. The parks vast space and connectivity should give pandas a chance to breed and increase their population numbers.
The new park will reconnect fragmented habitats in an effort to reunite bear populations that have become separated from one another.
This project "takes the long view," Bob Tansey, China policy adviser for The Nature Conservancy, tells National Geographic. "Generally, pandas are doing well. But what will they need in the future? Connectivity."