Let Pandas Die, Says BBC Presenter
Pandas should be allowed to go extinct because they are suck in an "evolutionary cul-de-sac" and that we should "pull the plug"on our conservation efforts, 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. It's not a strong species. Unfortunately it's big and cute and it's a symbol of the WWF, and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity," he implored.
Pandas have become critically endangered, with an estimated number of only around 1,600 worldwide, according to the WWF. Giant pandas are confined to forest areas high in the mountains of southwestern China where they have access to large quantities of bamboo. One leading threat to the pandas is that their natural habitat has been vastly destroyed due to agricultural encroachment and China's human overpopulation problem.
Mark Wright, The World Wildlife Fund's conservation science advisor, dismissed Packham's assertion and called his argument "unhelpful."
"Chris has taken an irresponsible position. Pandas face extinction because of poaching and human pressures on their habitat. They have adapted to the area in which they live and if left alone, they function perfectly well.
“It’s like saying the blue whale is in an evolutional cul-de-sac because it lives in the ocean,” Wright added.
Packham said the last large mammal to go extinct was the Chinese pink dolphin, but it was allosed to disappear because "because it was pig-ugly and swam around in a river where no one saw it" unlike the "fluffy, charismatic" pandas. He also predicted that in around 15 years, tigers will be extinct too: "How can you protect an animal that's worth more dead than alive? You can't."
"So maybe if we took all the cash we spend on pandas and just bought rainforests with it, we might be doing a better job. "I'm not trying to play God; I'm playing God's accountant," said Peckham