Shark versus the Panda

    Shark versus the Panda

Studies on the ecological system have shown that the lives of each species in every habitat are so inter-connected and dependent on each other that a slight change in population composition of any of them could have adverse effects on the ecosystem in general. For this reason, environmentalists have been in the forefront advocating for conservation of both the flora and the fauna. Inasmuch as all species may be important, some are arguably more ecologically valuable than others. This may make one draw an interesting conclusion; that a possible extinction of a given species may not be as consequential as the elimination of another. This paper proceeds to give a concise analysis of Sharks and pandas based on their interdependency.

The importance of each species of sharks and pandas may be drawn from its habitat. The former occupy large water bodies, especially the big ones. Occurring in over four hundred and seventy known species, they are found in all oceans, seas, and lakes, both freshwater and saltwater. Well-known species include the great white shark, mako shark, blue shark, hammerhead shark, and the tiger shark which are apex predators (Camhi & IUCN, 1998). Though not as cuddly as pandas or other iconic species used in the conservation movement, sharks are important creatures that play a principal role in regulating and maintaining the health of marine ecosystems (Mohan & Howarth, 2013). Ultimately, it could be argued that this sustains all life on earth. Many livelihoods depend on the existence of healthy fish populations. As such, sharks in their capacity as apex predators in the food chain, are important in controlling the size and behaviors of other lower species in the food chain. Therefore, they are crucial in the existence of sustainable fisheries. In fact, entire marine systems owe their existence to sharks (Camhi & IUCN, 1998).

Pandas, on the other hand, live in coniferous and broadleaf forests with an understory of bamboo at elevations of between five thousand and ten thousand feet. Their diet is exclusively bamboo (Schreiber, 2010). They also feed on occasional rodents and mist deer dawns. Besides bamboo, those in zoos eat sugarcane, rice gruel, a special biscuit rich in high-fiber, carrots, and apples. They may be a species facing extinction, but because of their exclusive bamboo diet (ninety nine percent), they may not be as ecologically valuable as sharks. This is especially the case since they consume large amounts of food, owing to their inefficient digestive system. A greater percentage of what they ingest is passed out as waste (Schreiber, 2010). Consequently, much pressure is exerted on the ecosystem, leading to degradation.

The significance of each species as discussed above have influenced people to think that sharks are more important than pandas as far as the balance of the ecosystem is concerned. However, the public should be educated and, therefore, be enlightened concerning the importance of each. Awareness should be created; that once a species disappears, the ecological role it plays for the benefit of everyone is lost (Ehrlich, 1981). For instance, as regards sharks, sale of their fins is legal in many countries. Thus, it is important that consumers develop responsible habits like curbing appetites as this would help save the species that are driven towards extinction. In cases where extinctions are imminent, suppliers and markets should exercise discipline and responsibility. This can be achieved through proper and extensive awareness campaigns, where all stakeholders and the general public are made to understand that a slight imbalance in an ecosystem can have adverse effects, some of which may be irreversible.


Camhi, M., & International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. (1998). Sharks and their relatives: Ecology and conservation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN: Cambridge, UK.

Ehrlich, P. R., & Ehrlich, A. H. (1981). Extinction: The causes and consequences of the disappearance of species. New York: Random House.

Mohan, J., & Howarth, R. (2013). Biomes and Ecosystems. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press.

Schreiber, A. (2010). Pandas. Washington, D.C: National Geographic.