Giant Pandas Are No Longer Endangered, China Says
Officials in China have downgraded the classification of giant pandas from endangered to vulnerable after their population in the wild reached 1,800.
The animals were first reclassified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016, when it removed the giant panda from its endangered species list.
The IUCN’s decision was met with backlash from Chinese officials, who argued at the time that it may lead people into believing that efforts to help increase the population could be relaxed, when in reality the country has continued its long-term conservation efforts.
Work involved in helping grow the giant panda population in the wild has included expanding habitats and recreating and repopulating bamboo forests to help ensure the animals have enough food to eat.
An increase in numbers has also been attributed to captive breeding methods performed by zoos, BBC News reports.
Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said the change in classification of giant pandas ‘reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated.’
In a post shared following the IUCN’s reclassification of the animals in 2016, the WWF said the animals’ habitat is threatened by ‘poorly-planned infrastructure projects’.
After decades of work, it is clear that the future of pandas and their forest home depends on even greater efforts, especially with the increasing impact of climate change.
It will require even more government investment, stronger partnerships with local communities and a wider understanding of the importance for people of conserving wildlife and the landscapes in which they live.
There are now more than 1,800 giant pandas in China, with the WWF reporting there were as few as 1,114 in the country in the 1980s.
The reclassification marks the first time the giant panda’s status was changed on the endangered species list in China, where the animal is considered a national treasure.
At a press conference on Wednesday, July 7, the Chinese environment authority said that the living conditions of rare and endangered species such as Tibetan antelope and Père David’s deer have also been improved, along with the populations of endangered species such as the Siberian or Amur tiger, the Northeast Asian leopard, the Asian elephant and the crested ibis.
Shuhong highlighted the success of China’s efforts with stories of wild animals that have been showing up across the country, for example when a Chinese mountain cat, which for years there have been very few records of, was spotted in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province.
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