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NATURE

Save the Pandas … Or Maybe Not?

February 26th, 2013

6-month old panda cub. Photo credit: Flickr user dominqueb via CC

As you see the above picture of this adorable baby panda bear … and realize there are only a couple thousand pandas left in the world (at most), your thought is probably … save the pandas!

There likely won’t be much doubt left in your mind after you see this video of them trying to learn to walk. Aaaww!

There are a lot of dedicated people trying to bring panda bears back from being nearly extinct.

But there’s a debate among some scientists that maybe — gulp — we shouldn’t.

Whaaat?

That sounds like an awful thing to say. But there seems to be a growing number of people who think they might just have a point.

To be clear, these people don’t want pandas to die out.

But they argue that millions and millions of dollars are being spent to try to save pandas — and there’s no guarantee it will work.

Part of the problem is that pandas’ natural habitats in China have dwindled down to almost nothing. Even if they can grow pandas back to healthy numbers, there may not be adequate habitat for them to be reintroduced back into the wild successfully. They’re not convinced it’s worth it if the only life pandas have are in captivity or at a zoo.

Should all this effort be made if pandas could only survive in captivity? What do you think?

Critics argue that maybe all that money and time would be better spent on saving many other endangered species … instead of just one. According to Kate Snow’s report on NBC News, up to 200 species are going extinct almost every day! You can watch her report below.

If there’s only a limited amount of money to spend on trying to save endangered species, how do we decide which ones to save?

Olivia and Carter Ries have been following the ‘panda debate’. They’re the kid founders of One More Generation , helping to save endangered species. You can read HTE’s stories about their great work by clicking  here  and  here .

HTE Kids’ News asked them what they thought and here’s what they said:   “The way we would settle the argument is to divide funds and resources based on the status of the endangerment of the species.  For example, if there were only about 25,000 rhinos left on the planet (which happens to be the true figure) and there were about 750,000 elephants (which happens to also be the true figure) left on the planet, then we would try to proportionately distribute funds to the species based on which one needs the most help to keep the species from going extinct.” The rhinos in that case.

But they added that, “funding would have to be adjusted to ensure the species at most risk of extinction would be granted the most funding.” In that case it would lean toward the elephant because of the rate they’re being poached (killed).

Here is the World Wildlife Fund’s list of endangered species .

How would you try to solve this problem?

Sarah Bexell works to save pandas and was featured in NBC’s recent report. She told NBC it’s humans who put pandas in this mess of facing extinction (mainly by humans encroaching on their land) so it’s our responsibility to do what we can to save them.

She added, if we can’t save the one we love the most, how can there be hope for the others?

What do you think?

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