Declining numbers, growing problem

It's a sight that would bring a smile to most faces.

Seen here in a shopping mall in Paris are 1,600 papier-mache pandas, a project by French artist Paulo Grangeon, who hand-made and painted the bears.

The number represents each of the remaining 1,600 pandas left in the wild. This figure is 40 per cent more than were previously thought to exist, but there are still serious threats to the survival of the animal.

The findings come as a result of a study of pandas and their habitats by the State Forestry Administration of China and WWF, the global conservation organisation. The last survey, in the 1980s, found around 1,100 giant pandas in the wild.

Experts at the WWF believe the difference is due more to better counting methods than to pandas living in a better environment.

The survey also cited deforestation and continued poaching as factors threatening the bear's future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Declining numbers, growing problem'. Subscribe