Saving the giant panda is one of the big success stories of conservation.


Decades of efforts to create protected habitat for the iconic mammal has pulled it back from the brink of extinction.


Leopards, snow leopards, wolves and Asian wild dogs have almost disappeared from the majority of protected areas.


Without the likes of leopards and wolves, deer and livestock can roam unchecked, causing damage to natural habitats, with knock-on effects for other wildlife, including pandas themselves.


But while that has worked for some other wildlife, the efforts do not appear to have worked for large carnivores, such as the leopard and wolf.


A team of researchers now says a broader - holistic - approach is needed to manage the ecosystem in which the panda lives - one that ensures key species don't lose out.


This was "critically needed to better increase the resilience and sustainability of the ecosystems not only for giant pandas but also for other wild species", said co-author Dr Sheng Li of Peking University in Beijing.

這是 "迫切需要更好地提高生態系統的彈性和可持續性,不僅只是保護大熊貓,也是保護其他野生物種",論文共同作者,北京大學的李勝博士說道。

The distinctive black and white mammal is regarded as an "umbrella species". These are species sexted as subjects for conservation, typically because protecting them indirectly helps other wildlife in that ecological community.

這種黑白分明的哺乳動物被稱為 "保護傘物種"。這些物種被選為保護對象,通常是因為保護它們會間接幫助該生態群落中的其他野生動物。

Yet, large predators such as leopards, wolves and the little-known Asian wild dog, or dhole, which tend to range far and wide, seem to have fared badly.


Since panda reserves were set up in the 1960s, all four species have been lost from a big proportion of reserves. Leopards have disappeared from 81% of reserves, snow leopards from 38%, wolves from 77% and Asian wild dogs from 95%.


Numbers are now very low. For instance, there were only four sightings of the Asian wild dog among data from almost 8,000 survey stations recording more than 1.5 million camera days' of footage.


Prof Samuel Turvey of ZSL (Zoological Society of London), who is not connected with the study, said conservation in China and elsewhere in the world has often been based around landscape protection for specific "flagship species", with inferred wider benefits for regional biodiversity.

ZSL(倫敦動物學會)的Samuel Turvey教授(并未參與此項研究)說,中國和世界其他地方的動物保護工作往往圍繞著對特定 "旗艦物種 "的景觀保護,并推斷出對區域生物多樣性擁有更大益處。

This includes giant pandas in central China, and critically endangered gibbons in Hainan, he said.


"This has led to some important species recoveries, but efforts to maintain threatened biodiversity must also address human activities at the wider ecosystem-level, otherwise non-target species might continue to slip away unnoticed," said Prof Turvey.


In the study, the researchers analysed data from 73 protected areas, including 66 giant panda nature reserves, comparing historical survey data with a decade's worth of extensive camera-trap surveys.


The research is published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.