Let pandas die out, says naturalist

Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:27am EDT
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By Neil Maidment

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Conservationists should "pull the plug" on giant pandas and let them die out, according to BBC presenter and naturalist Chris Packham.

"Here's a species that, of its own accord, has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac," Packham told Radio Times magazine.

The 48-year-old believes that money spent on conserving the panda would be better invested in other animals as the species is not strong enough to survive alone.

"It's not a strong species. Unfortunately it's big and cute and it's a symbol of the WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) -- and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation."

"I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity ..."

Giant pandas are confined to forest areas high in the mountains of southwestern China and have to consume large quantities of bamboo to survive.

They number around 1,600 according to the WWF (www.wwf.org.uk), and are threatened by agriculture, logging and China's increasing human population.

But Packham's views are not widely shared.   Continued...

<p>Pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, whose names together mean "reunion" in Chinese, walk around inside their enclosure at the Taipei City Zoo March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Nicky Loh</p>