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What The Panda Won't Tell Us : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR  

2012-01-06 11:05:13|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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January 5, 2012

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Look at this animal. ... What do you see? Or more importantly, what don't you see?

What The Panda Wont Tell Us : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR - 肥肥 - 肥蝈蝈的博客
Ron Garrison/Associated Press

Every giant panda, , is a riddle. A contradiction. Each one is, first, a soft, furry ball of adorableness "with a large, round head and clumsy, cuddly body" that we all want to hug. That panda, said Gould, "exists in our mind."

Then there's the hidden panda, the real one that isn't as we imagine, that lives in the wild — and that panda, Gould wrote, "has remained essentially a mystery."

Thirty years ago, scientists knew next to nothing about pandas. Because the animals live in dense forests thick with bamboo, in 1980, when George Schaller from the Bronx Zoo and a team of Chinese scientists spent four years searching in Sichuan, they saw pandas rarely, only 16 times in the first two years. Most viewings, they wrote later, "were brief — a glimpse as an animal crossed an opening or ambled up a trail."

What The Panda Wont Tell Us : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR - 肥肥 - 肥蝈蝈的博客

So what do biologists do when close encounters are few? They turn to indirect evidence of behavior. Which, in the panda's case, meant poo. Pandas defecate constantly.

Schaller weighed, measured and examined that poo. He checked the bamboo shoots. (How much did they eat? How much did they digest?) It was exacting, exhausting work, often boring. But Schaller kept at it. Here's his map of one panda moving along a trail on May 31, 1982. The little black dots are poop deposits, all carefully counted.

What The Panda Wont Tell Us : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR - 肥肥 - 肥蝈蝈的博客
Courtesy of George B. Schaller/Harvard University Press
Courtesy of George B. Schaller/Harvard University Press

After four years in the field, Schaller and his team were able to report that giant pandas spend about 60 percent of the day eating, and the rest of the time sleeping or resting (mostly to emit what they ate), plus a few minutes grooming and scent-marking, but almost no time playing or gamboling, as we like to think. Pandas in the wild are rarely romantic, don't cuddle and are certainly not like the pandas of our minds.

As to what goes on in a real panda's mind, Schaller says he has no idea. After years spent tracking, poop collecting and bamboo measuring, he says pandas remain deeply strange to him. He knows everything they do, but he can't say much about who they are. In his book, The Last Panda, he imagines getting a letter from one of them. It's respectful, but the panda tells him, this "science" you do? It will never describe the real me. ....

What The Panda Wont Tell Us : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR - 肥肥 - 肥蝈蝈的博客

But in Schaller's defense (and the typing panda should know this), those scientific studies did have consequences.

Before he set out, conservationists thought that pandas were losing population because their food source was untrustworthy, because wild bamboo goes through cycles, and sometimes there's not enough to eat. But Schaller found no evidence of starvation. Instead, he found that human poachers were to blame. So, according to Wikipedia, "Schaller would hand out cards to wildlife hunters that read:

All beings tremble at punishment, to all, life is dear. Comparing others to oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill."

After Schaller's first few expeditions, predation went down, the Chinese government stepped up enforcement, and since then, the Wiki entry says, "the panda population has increased in the wild by 45 percent."

So that imaginary panda should go back to his imaginary typewriter and crank out another imaginary "Dear Dr. Schaller" letter, and if Schaller would let him, I'd have him add just a couple of extra words — nothing grand — but right at the end, I'd let the panda say something like, "Thank you."

George Schaller's newest essay and the panda field notes I showed you appear in a 2011 collection edited by Michael R. Canfield, from Harvard University Press. The book is called . Stephen Jay Gould's essay "How does the Panda fit?" can be found in his collection, .

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D Boone (BearKiller) wrote:
MMMMmmmmm....Panda burgers........
________

Your schtick is getting old. The Chinese do not eat Pandas so stop being stupid and actually contribute something if you're capable.

2012年1月5日 20:52:01

Recommended (6)

Its strange to imagine the hook-shaped 1st digit (thumb equivalent) of a Panda on a typewriter keyboard or the other 4 digits that are short and gently curved. Stephen Jay Gould noted how this was specialized for holding and stripping bamboo. I doubt that he used or would have used Wikipedia. Our eriudite English-using Panda would have probably averred the use of this source as well.
I do not know much, but I do know one thing: If I were a Panda, I would want to be making myself scarce.
Speaking as the Panda now, myself:
Its not so much that I would be embarassed over making all that Poo. No!
The problem is that the two most vulnerable times for me amidst potential predators are when I am eating and when I am making Poo. Since I do these so much, wherever and however I do them, I am a 'sitting duck' at such times. If I don't make myself scarce, I make myself somebody's dinner!
I'd rather be a sitting Panda than a sitting duck. No, come to think of it, I'd like to lay down and have a good sleep now.

2012年1月5日 20:41:47

Thomas Thompson wrote:
"If you read closely, he wasn't handing it out as a means for poachers to stop hunting that one creature, it was a general assessment of not hunting and killing at all. ... The region also has pandas as well that populate the area."

That may be, but the Tibetan steppe (where the Chang Tang region is located) isn't the area where Schaller was studying pandas, and the quote is from a Tibetan philosopher & poet. So it's certainly not the case that he was handing that card out specifically to hunters who were killing pandas, nor is it likely that he was handing this card out to non-Tibetans, as it probably wouldn't be an effective card to hand to ethnic Chinese. A better source is Schaller's own writing about it; for ex., Google [Schaller "All beings tremble at punishment, to all, life is dear. Comparing others to oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill"] and choose the second search result, a book written by Schaller.

At any rate, I agree w/ others that Mr. Krulwich shouldn't be relying on Wikipedia as a source of info; it can be a useful starting point in finding relevant primary sources, but isn't reliable itself.

2012年1月5日 17:12:05

If one reads the original source, the quote that Mr. Krulwich using regarding Schaller's work on pandas is actually associated with his work during the same time period -- the 1980s -- on the chiru of the Tibetan plateau. The implication at this source -- to me -- is that Schaller was giving these cards to hunters of the chiru not pandas.

____________________________________________________________________________
If you read closely, he wasn't handing it out as a means for poachers to stop hunting that one creature, it was a general assessment of not hunting and killing at all. The article just states that the creature exists in the area separated by an em dash, not that the cards were made for them specifically.

"China's Chang Tang region—home to the chiru (Tibetan antelope)—Schaller gave hunters a card that said: "All beings tremble at punishment, to all, life is dear. Comparing others to oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill."

The region also has pandas as well that populate the area.

2012年1月5日 15:44:30

Sweet! Bless the panda, and all the other wondrous critters out there, too amazing for us to put into boxes, of any kind. We are called to rule over them in a way which PROVIDES FOR THEM AND PROTECTS THEM, not to rule over them in order to oppress, exploit or cage them or in any way harm them.

2012年1月5日 14:59:33

I'm a fan of Mr. Krulwich's work and specifically his work on Radio Lab. However, I have to agree with those deriding his use of Wikipedia as a source. It took me less than 5 minutes to figure out that the Wikipedia information seems to be incorrect.

Specifically, the quote referenced by Mr. Krulwich from wikipedia site s source: ^ a b c d e f g h Ryan Bradley (2007). "Biologist George Schaller's 50-Year Battle". National Geographic. Retrieved October 5, 2007.

This contains a link to the source: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/best-of-adventure-2007/wildlife/george-schaller-leopards-lions-pandas.html

If one reads the original source, the quote that Mr. Krulwich using regarding Schaller's work on pandas is actually associated with his work during the same time period -- the 1980s -- on the chiru of the Tibetan plateau. The implication at this source -- to me -- is that Schaller was giving these cards to hunters of the chiru not pandas.

As I said, this took me less than 5 minutes to run down. I'm a bit disappointed that Mr. Krulwich nor his editors took the time to do the same.

2012年1月5日 14:53:17

No Killing or experimentation on the Pandas please. Remember Jane Godall and Rachel Carson in pursuit of information on a species.

2012年1月5日 14:27:52

To those bashing the Wikipedia reference, you can check who added the source of text as I'm sure this was done prior to publishing this article. It probably was placed by the Dr. himself I'm willing to bet.

2012年1月5日 14:19:29

Very touching story. Loved it

2012年1月5日 14:18:18

MMMMmmmmm....Panda burgers........

2012年1月5日 13:57:23

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