© 2021 WFIT
Public Radio for the Space Coast
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Nature

Finally Some Good News! China Says Giant Pandas Are No Longer Endangered

A Giant panda enjoys bamboo at the Beijing Zoo during the first day of the public display in 2008 in Beijing.
A Giant panda enjoys bamboo at the Beijing Zoo during the first day of the public display in 2008 in Beijing.

It's a good day to be a giant panda. Chinese conservation officials have announced that they no longer consider giant pandas in China an endangered species.

Their status has been updated to "vulnerable," Cui Shuhong from China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment said Wednesday, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reports.

There are now 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild, a number that officials credit to the country's devotion to maintaining nature reserves and other conservation initiatives in recent years. As a result, other species have also flourished: Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and crested ibises have all seen a gradual increase in population numbers, according to the outlet.

Internationally, the giant panda has been considered "vulnerable" for five years. The International Union for Conservation of Nature removed giant pandas from its list of endangered species in 2016 — a decision that Chinese officials challenged at the time.

"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," China's State Forestry Administration told The Associated Press at the time. "Therefore, we're not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species' endangered status."

Two giant pandas, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, are seen at the Bifeng Gorge Base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Yaan city in 2008.
Sam Yeh / AFP via Getty Images
/
Two giant pandas, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, are seen at the Bifeng Gorge Base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Yaan city in 2008.

It's not clear that the number of giant pandas living in the wild has changed significantly since 2016, when IUCN first made its decision. At the end of 2015, there were 1,864 pandas living in the wild, according to a Reuters report that cites the Chinese government. That number was a significant increase from the 1,100 giant pandas that were living in the wild and 422 living in captivity in 2000.

Still, giant pandas aren't out of the woods just yet. They live in bamboo forests, which are at risk due to climate change.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.