Giant Pandas Are No Longer On The Endangered Species List After Increase In Population

Giant Pandas Are No Longer On The Endangered Species List After Increase In Population

Chinese conservation officials announced that giant pandas have moved up from being an endangered species to "vulnerable" species.

Image Source: Getty Images/Buena Vista Images

In a huge win for conservationists in China, giant pandas are no longer an endangered species. Chinese officials announced that they have moved up from being endangered to "vulnerable" since the panda population in the wild has reached more than 1,800, reported NBC News. The problem with panda conservation is that it is a hassle to get them to breed in captivity, while they are just too picky, and almost too lazy to breed in the wild. But against all odds, their population has been steadily maintained and has even been increased by the relentless efforts of conservationists in China.


Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said at a news conference that this improvement "reflects their improved living conditions and China's efforts in keeping their habitats integrated." The BBC reported that the expansion of habitats, which was one among the many long-term conservation efforts, helped in preserving the national animal of the country. Even though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had classified giant pandas as vulnerable in 2016, Chinese officials had disputed the decision. They believed that this classification would mislead people into believing that conservation efforts could be relaxed.


Speaking to the Associated Press at the time, China's State Forestry Administration had stated, "If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost. Therefore, we're not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species endangered status." The conservation efforts have also trickled down into the revival of other species in the country. Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and crested ibises have also benefited and have seen a gradual increase in their numbers.


"Thanks to decades of collaboration between the Chinese government, local communities, companies, and NGOs, the giant panda's future is more secure," Colby Loucks, World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Vice President for Wildlife Conservation told NPR. "China's successful conservation of giant pandas shows what can be achieved when political will and science join forces. Continuing these conservation efforts is critical, but we need to stay vigilant on the current and future impacts climate change may have on giant pandas and their mountainous forest habitat." WWF even called it "another sign of hope for the species."


While it is something worth celebrating, pandas are still at risk. Especially in the wild, where they live in bamboo forests, which are at risk due to climate change. "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," the WWF website states. "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. And it will certainly need your continued support."


Giant pandas are beloved animals and have great significance in China. They have also been used for developing friendly relations with other countries by China. In what is known as panda diplomacy, pandas are often loaned to other countries as diplomatic tools. A practice that was started more than 50 years ago continues to benefit China politically as well as economically since the transfer of guardianship for the fluffy beings is usually followed by lucrative trade deals between the countries, reported The Guardian. Researchers from Oxford University have stated that panda diplomacy has entered the phase where loans of the endangered species are "associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and technology and symbolize China's willingness to build guanxi." Guanxi is a Chinese term to describe business relationships and connections.


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