Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species, as their number in the wild has increased to about 1,800 over the past decade owing to China’s conservation efforts, Cui Shuhong, a senior official in the country’s environment ministry, announced at a press conference.
Beijing’s decision came five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgraded the animal’s status from endangered to vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species. At the time, the Chinese authorities criticized the move as premature.
“The panda population in the wild has risen to about 1,800, which reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated,” Cui was cited as saying by state-run newspaper China Daily.
The protection measures employed by the Chinese government include setting up panda reserves, relocating people from panda habitats, training locals to be rangers, and breeding pandas in captivity before releasing them into the wild, the ministry said.
However, despite the positive results, the giant panda will remain under the state protection plan.
According to the environment ministry official, the increase in the giant panda population shows that Chinese nature reserves are successful in their duty of preserving the country’s biodiversity.
The government’s conservation efforts cover a broad range of endangered species, such as Siberian tigers, Amur leopards, Asian elephants and crested ibis, which have also shown a visible increase in numbers over the years, the official added.—AP