GPS collars divulge secret life of Pandas

During a recent study on pandas, scientists found that the cute black and white bears don’t always exist as solitary creatures. The said study showed that the mammals that were originally thought to be unsocial in nature have very complex and rich social lives.

According to Vanessa Hull, one of the coauthors of the study, due to the elusive nature of pandas, it’s extremely difficult to observe this animal species in wild. Hull added that this is the reason scientists have failed to have a clear picture of the day to day activities of pandas. Here, it must be noted that Hull is a researcher representing the Michigan State University.


To track the daily activities of pandas, Hull along with her colleagues fitted GPS collars onto 5 giant pandas residing in the famous Wolong Nature Reserve in China. Among these 5 pandas, 3 were adult females (Zhong Zhong, Mei Mei and Pan Pan), one was an adult male (Chuan Chuan) and the final one was a young female (Long Long).

Jindong Zhang, another coauthor of the study, said that for them this was a chance to take a close look at the secretive society of the pandas.

After equipping them with GPS collars, the five pandas were allowed to go back to the reserve. Hull described her experience of monitoring the movements of those pandas on the computer screen as “fascinating”.

During the electronic stalking, it was found that two of the adult pandas, one male and one female spent a lot of time together during the fall, which is not the mating season of the pandas. What was more fascinating was that they had the young female panda with them when hanging out.

The adult male panda was found to be traveling much more compared to the adult females. However, the researchers noticed that he has the habit of coming back frequently to check on the females. The male panda was also found to showcase his presence through scent marking; for that he rubs his back against the nearby trees.

Another significant finding of this latest study is that pandas love munching bamboos in as many as 30 regions in the reserve.