Pandas: do we need 'em?

I have just been reading about the Radio Times interview with Springwatch presenter Chris Packham – self-styled ‘Pol Pot of conservation‘ – and his suggestion that giant pandas are a waste of money and we should allow them to go the way of the dodo.

It's not cute, it's a biological aberration

It’s not cute, it’s a biological aberration

He says:

“Here’s a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species.

“I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go with a degree of dignity.”

This is a tough one and I really can’t make up my mind. Perhaps readers can help. In the meantime I’ve tried to draw up a list of pros and cons.


1. This could be a major conservation opportunity. There are approximately 1000 Pandas left in the wild. If hunting licences were granted at, say, $200 million a pop to sicko billionaires, this would raise enough money (probably) to stop global warming, rescue Tuvalu, and bio-engineer a brand new bamboo-rich planet on which the graceful panda could live in peace and harmony for all eternity.

2. Anything which irritates the hell out of the World Wildlife Fund can’t be bad.

3. They don’t look quite right do they? More like a cuddly toy that some mildly deranged East German designer dreamt up for the Harrods toy department in the 1970s than a real animal. Best to rid the world now of this monstrous biological aberration with its ridiculously complicated breeding cycle, in case it suddenly mutates into something much more voracious and dangerous.


1. There would be no incentive for future “Nixon In China” type Sino-American summits because what President wants to go through all that hassle if there’s no take-home gift for his zoo at the end of it.

2. The WWF would need a new logo. It would almost certainly be the ruddy polar bear. Cue even more hysterical eco-bullying propaganda and lies about drowning ickle polies on melting ice floes.

3. Without pandas to graze it short, whole swathes of the China could end up as huge, uninhabitable bamboo forests, forcing the Chinese to seek lebensraum elsewhere, and slowly take over the world.

Over to you, panda fans.