Red pandas are two species, not one

Red panda

The red panda is not one species but two, according to DNA evidence.
Already endangered due to hunting and habitat loss, conservation efforts are now even more critical, say scientists.
The red panda lives in the mountainous forests of China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar, where numbers are down to a few thousand individuals and decreasing every day.

Two varieties have long been suspected, based on physical features, but genetic evidence has been lacking.
The Chinese (left) and Himalayan (right) red pandas are separate species
Chinese red pandas have redder fur and striped tail rings, while Himalayan pandas have whiter faces.
Lead researcher Yibo Hu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the Himalayan red panda needs more urgent protection, because of its lower genetic diversity, and small population size.
"To conserve the genetic uniqueness of the two species, we should avoid their interbreeding in captivity and construct clear captive pedigrees," he said.

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