A comprehensive genetic study on red pandas has revealed that the endangered mammals from Asia’s high forests belong to two distinct species and not just a single one as previously believed.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Kunming based their findings on an analysis of DNA from 65 red pandas. They found significant differences between the two species through three genetic markers.
According to scientists, the two species are the Himalayan red pandas, which are found in Nepal, India, Bhutan and South Tibet, and the Chinese red pandas, which are native in Northern Myanmar, Southeastern Tibet, as well as the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in China.
While there had been previous speculation that red pandas existed in more than just one species due to some notable physical differences, this new study finally settled the debate.
According to the researchers, the Chinese red pandas have redder faces and more distinct red tail rings than the Himalayan red pandas.
The findings, which may cause important consequences for conservation efforts, were revealed in the Science Advances journal on February 26, CNN reports.
The lack of understanding about the species, prior to this discovery, had the effect of “directly impairing scientific conservation management,” the scientists note. One such harm was the potential for interbreeding.
“The delimitation of two red panda species has crucial implications for their conservation, and effective species-specific conservation plans could be formulated to protect the declining red panda populations,” noted the study.
Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.
Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.
However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.
We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community.
Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for everyone’s support. We love you all and can’t appreciate you guys enough.