Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh scientists to study panda faeces to aid conservation

Tian Tian Image copyright Getty Images

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh have been awarded £250,000 to study panda faeces.

The Leverhulme Trust funding is being used for DNA research into the giant panda diet in a bid to improve conservation of the endangered species.

The UK's only two giant pandas based at Edinburgh Zoo will be a part of the study.

It is also hoped the study will help improve the chances of reproduction in captivity.

The panda droppings (scats) will be compared to those of wild pandas in China.

Previous research suggests pandas may eat up to 60 different species of bamboo and could possibly even consume other plant species, fungi and animals.

Dr Linda Neaves, molecular ecologist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said: "For pandas, getting their diet and their health right plays a major part in whether or not they reproduce.

"There is a lot of variation of panda diet in the wild.

"By better understanding which species of bamboo, and when they are eating them in the wild, we can start to match that better in captivity."

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