The status of the giant panda changed from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s official Red List, the organization said in a report released Sunday.
- Pandas are no longer as endangered! | Click to tweet
The species has seen most resurgence in southern China, resulting from decades of conservation efforts by the Chinese government and international organizations to revitalize bamboo forests where pandas thrive, lessen the skin trade and breed the species at large costs.
The species has been a priority of conservationists in China since the 1980s, when the population numbered less than 1,000 due to poaching and deforestation.
Now, the IUCN estimates a population of 2,060 pandas, 1,864 of which are adults.
The organization’s Red List, which documents the conservation status of roughly 80,000 species, has become a widely used tool by government agencies, wildlife organizations, NGOs and others to track the status of the earth’s biodiversity. As such, the status change on this list represents a significant victory for organizations like World Wildlife Fund, who have been working closely on conserving the species.
“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,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF, said in a statement.
Yet experts remain wary, and the IUCN recognizes that the problem isn’t solved yet. The report also stated that within the next 80 years, climate change will likely destroy more than 35 percent of forests that serve as pandas’ natural habitat, which could cause another species decline.
“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,” the forestry administration told AP. “Therefore, we’re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species’ endangered status.”
The IUCN said in the report that China’s intent to further their conservation efforts for the species is “a positive step and must be strongly supported to ensure its effective implementation.”