Giant Pandas Are Making a Comeback

Aug 20, 2021by Olivia - F&F

Good news: China’s national treasure, the Giant Panda, is no longer endangered in the wild! After decades of conservation efforts, the number of Giant Pandas living in the wild has risen to approximately 1,864

Let’s explore how this happened and how these conservation measures are helping other endangered species!

Giant Pandas and BambooGiant Pandas and Bamboo

Conservation Efforts Have Paid Off!

The iconic black and white Giant Panda isn’t just a national treasure for China, it’s also one of the most loveable and instantly recognisable species in the world. That’s why over the past few decades, the Chinese Government has worked hard to rebuild and expand Giant Panda habitats.

Recently, the Chinese Government announced that Giant Pandas are no longer classified as an endangered species! The announcement follows a massive 17 per cent increase in Giant Panda numbers within a decade, reaching a healthy population size of 1,864 Giant Pandas located in the wild. 

Head of the Chinese Government’s Nature and Ecology Conservation department, Cui Shuhong, said the reclassification “reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated”.

Giant Panda In ChinaGiant Panda In China

Restoring the Population Of Giant Pandas

To save the Giant Panda from extinction, conservation has focused on three key approaches: protecting Giant Panda habitats, using captive breeding and introducing Giant Pandas into the wild, and implementing laws to stop illegal Giant Panda hunting.

Obviously, protecting Giant Panda habitats is essential so 13 Giant Panda nature reserves were established to regrow trees and bamboo for food! Due to the low reproductivity (1 cub in 2 years) and low survival rate for Giant Panda cubs, breeding Giant Pandas in captivity and releasing them into the wild has been really effective. Lastly, the Chinese Government has enforced harsh laws to protect Giant Pandas already in the wild. Hunters and smugglers that harm a "first-class protected species" can receive over 10 years in jail.

Giant Panda ConservationGiant Panda Conservation

Despite Recent Success, Giant Pandas Are Still Vulnerable

Despite their iconic status, Giant Pandas are still classed as a vulnerable species. China’s announcement actually comes five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had already removed Giant Pandas from its endangered species list and re-labelled it as "vulnerable" in 2016.

So, why did China keep Giant Pandas on its own endangered species list? Well, at the time, Chinese officials believed that upgrading the classification on the Giant Pandas would stir complacency and potentially undo years of hard conservation efforts! At the time, Giant Pandas still lived in small, isolated groups in the wild and struggled to reproduce. Plus, Giant Pandas face many long-term threats, mostly due to climate change. According to the IUCN, climate change could destroy around 35% of Giant Panda bamboo habitats within 80 years.

Siberian TigerSiberian Tiger

Other Endangered Species Are Recovering In China! 

At least 25 per cent of China’s land has been designated for ecological protection, which has helped other endangered species to thrive, too. Besides Giant Pandas, the Chinese Government has reported an increase in numbers of Siberian Tigers, Amur Leopards, Milu Deer, Tibetan Antelopes, Asian Elephants, and Crested Ibises! 

According to China's State Council Information Office, “the living conditions of China's rare and endangered species have seen notable improvements amid the country's active efforts on biodiversity protection and ecological restoration”. Chinese citizens are delighted by the outcomes of the conservation efforts: “the concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin.

This is such a positive step in the right direction for wildlife conservation — not only for the Giant Panda, but also for the other endangered species in China that are benefitting from habitat protection and restoration. 

If you love positive stories like this, head to the Eco News category for more! 

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