To which the WWF has replied:
(Evolutional? God, I hope that's a misprint!)
Mr Packham is right up to a point. As a species pandas probably are in an evolutionary cul-de-sac.
But so? This has not been an unusual thing in the history of life. The more specialised a species becomes the narrower its range of "eco-space" becomes and, consequently, the more vulnerable it becomes to changes in that space.
As we've seen in Hawaii for instance, a plant whose reproductive strategy is tied exclusively to one species of bird is in real trouble if that bird disappears.
While it works it works though, and many plants and animals have gone down that evolutionary path.
However, the ultimate fate of any species, no matter how generalised or specialised its adaptation to its environment, is extinction.
The vast number of all species that have ever lived are extinct. The tree of life is composed overwhelmingly of dead wood. Only the twigs and leaves at the ends of its various branches are alive. The rest is dead. Most of it long dead.
But as Stephen Jay Gould said, this ultimate fate of all life has to be put into the context of geological time and what might be considered the normal "lifespan" of a species. I think that Dr Wright is right to point out that the panda most likely would be doing fine if its range hadn't been reduced and broken up by the activities of people.
And really, from the perspective of evolutionary biology properly understood, terms like "strong species" are completely meaningless. A species just is. While it is adapted to its environment it thrives, but if it isn't any longer it dies.
Plus, we can waste money on appallingly bad publically funded "art," bodies of near complete uselessness like the United Nations (on a good day) and pointless subsidies for businessmen running so-called "renewable" energy scams, so why not the panda?
I'd gladly do without these to live in a world that still had pandas in it.