As readers of this week's Mail on Sunday article will be aware, the best way to ensure the survival of the giant panda is to protect its wild habitat. That remains the focus our work with the Chinese government and local communities. There has been significant progress over the years, but we know there’s still a lot to be done - especially in the face of increasing threats like road construction, mining, expanding tourism and the like.
It’s our view that captive breeding alone isn’t an effective conservation method for giant pandas.
In some cases, captive breeding can be a tool for reintroducing a species into isolated habitats where they have become extinct due to human pressures, and where conservation measures would now support their reintroduction.
But the long-term survival of giant pandas in the wild really depends on there being enough intact and connected areas of bamboo forest, inhabited by large, stable panda populations, with enough interaction to ensure genetic diversity. That's the focus of WWF's panda conservation work in China.
The latest national census of giant pandas in the wild (the fourth done in China) is underway right now. The last one, back in 2003, reported a total of 1600 pandas.