Thanks to worldwide conservation efforts, Giant Pandas are no longer deemed to be an ‘endangered’ species.
Although they are still considered to be a ‘vulnerable’ species, this news has been celebrated by the likes of WWF and other animal charities as an example of how an integrated approach can help save our planet’s vanishing biodiversity.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the positive change to the giant panda’s official status in the Red List of Threatened Species, pointing to the 17 per cent rise in the Giant Panda population in the decade up to 2014.
A nationwide census taken two years ago found that a total of 1,864 Giant Pandas were living in their natural habitat in China. Speaking of the news, WWF Director General, Marco Lambertini said:
“For over fifty years, the giant panda has been the globe’s most beloved conservation icon as well as the symbol of WWF. Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats. The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”
WWF have been working with the government on initiatives to save giant pandas and their habitat since 1961, helping to establish an integrated network of giant panda reserves and wildlife corridors to connect isolated panda populations as well as working with local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and minimise their impact on the forests. Such efforts have seen the number of panda reserves jump to 67, which now protect nearly two-thirds of all wild pandas.
Though their elevated status on the threatened species list is undoubtedly good news, the charity’s CEO in China, Lo Sze Ping, issued a reminder that there is still work to be done in order to keep these animals safe and better their chances of long-lasting survival even further:
“This reclassification recognises decades of successful conservation efforts led by the Chinese government and demonstrates that investment in the conservation of iconic species like giant pandas does pay off – and benefits our society as well as species. Everyone should celebrate this achievement but pandas remain scattered and vulnerable, and much of their habitat is threatened by poorly-planned infrastructure projects – and remember: there are still only 1,864 left in the wild.”
For more information and details on how you can help the species even further, visit the WWF website.