The status of the Chinese bears has been downgraded to 'vulnerable'
The giant panda is no longer considered as an endangered species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) has removed the giant panda from its endangered list as a result of conservation efforts. The Chinese bears are now considered “vulnerable”.
Nevertheless, the Chinese government is not viewing their new status as any less serious.
The decision to downgrade the status of the pandas from “endangered” to “vulnerable” reflects the growing numbers of pandas in the wild in southern China. The international group said that the wild panda population jumped from 1864 in 2014 from 1596 in 2004 due to the work done by Chinese agencies enforcing poaching bans and expanding forest reserves.
The IUCN did however warn that climate change may eliminate more than 35% of the natural bamboo habitat in the forests in the next 80 years, which could lead to another decline.
China’s State Forestry Administration said that disputed the classification change on the basis that the pandas’ natural habitats have been suffering from natural and human causes.
The administration said, “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.”
In the 1980s, the panda population sunk below 1000 due to poaching and deforestation. Beijing reacted by supporting the preservation of the animal.
Pandas have long been a symbol of China and a number have been sent to zoos around the world as a gesture of Chinese diplomatic goodwill.
However, international groups and the Chinese government have been criticised for preserving the animal at an enormous cost. The IUCN pointed out that there has been a 70% decline in the eastern gorilla population over the past 20 years.
Nonetheless, the WFF, who have been using the panda for its logo since 1961 has celebrated the reclassification of the panda. Marco Lambertini, the Director General of WWF 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.”
“When science, political will and engagement of local communities come together.”