Do pandas eat meat? New footage from China shows a person munching on flesh. Among other things, pandas are famous for their diet. The giant, round panda, native to south-central China, is a folivore, although belonging to the order of carnivores. Bamboo shoots and leaves make up 99% of their vegetarian diet. Since they typically spend 10 to 16 hours a day foraging, they need at least two different species of bamboo to satisfy their hunger. However, their digestive system is typical of a carnivore and the rest of the 1% of their diet includes eggs, forage in farmland for kidney beans, pumpkin, etc. But can they eat meat? According to recent images from a nature reserve in Shaanxi province (northwest China), probably yes. A giant panda was filmed holding and nibbling at the bones of a dead animal. The video was shared by CCTV Video News Agency.
The recording, shared on YouTube by CCTV Video News Agency, was captured as part of a field survey of the population. Researchers were studying the habitats of pandas in Foping National Nature Reserve in Hanzhong City. Ranger Li Shuiping counted the number of pandas with his team. As no bamboo forest was spotted on this great mountain slope, they became curious about what the giant panda was chewing.
They saw several eaten bones, probably from an animal carcass, scattered around the adult panda. After awhile, the panda was seen dropping the bone, turning around, and heading back into the woods.
The researchers took fecal samples from the panda and studied them. They found that the feces were different from the usual bamboo diet and that there were about twenty pieces of animal bone residue.
According to Li, this was the second time they had seen a giant panda gnawing meat in the Qinling Mountains. The last time they recorded a similar video, it was also in winter.
Li Sheng, a researcher at Peking University and an expert at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, mentioned that earlier recordings showed wild giant pandas eating meat in other nature reserves in different provinces of China. . Since their ancestors were omnivorous and giant pandas were forced to change their bamboo diet to adapt to climate change and habitat, they still retain the digestive tract of a carnivore.
Research records show that giant pandas sometimes treat themselves to something special, mostly from animal remains. However, what the behavior or what the complementary animal food source means for wild giant pandas is yet to be further investigated.
The Foping Reserve, part of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, has the highest density of panda populations in the country.
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