The reasons why pandas have become one of the rarest mammals in the world are not necessarily what you may think. Evolution has not been kind to them, for one thing. We can definitely say that their survival has not been helped by humans destroying the environment and hunting them to near-extinction, but the panda is also at the mercy of the strange habits of the bamboo, which form the bulk of its diet.
Every few years bamboo enters a stage of atypical sexual reproduction – instead of sending out runners, it produces flowers and seeds. The problem for pandas is that as soon as the bamboo has flowered it goes into a dormant stage called “die-back” – it literally disappears. New growth can take up to 3 years to return. Sadly during this period many pandas starve to death.
Additionally, the restricted diet of the panda is not the only problem as far as the fight for survival goes. Pandas also breed at a very slow rate – the female is only fertile for 2-3 days every year (contrast that with every 2-3 days each month, for human females!) So the panda birth rate can easily fall below the death rate, causing a further decline in the population. So it seems that the reproductive habits of both pandas and bamboo are contributing to their downfall.