Chinese officials announced that giant pandas are no longer considered an endangered species in the wild. Due to successful conservation efforts, the animals’ population grew to 1,800 and are now considered “vulnerable.”
Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said the success “reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated.”
“China has established a relatively complete nature reserves system,” Cui said. “Large areas of natural ecosystems have been systematically and completely protected, and wildlife habitats have been effectively improved.”
China’s conservation efforts include protecting and expanding the “panda’s preferred bamboo forest ecosystem,” according to EcoWatch, by creating large reserves in mountainous areas where the animal roam freely. While China’s conservation effort is being praised, giant pandas still face threats because of the climate crisis, which could eliminate more than 35 percent of the animal’s bamboo forest habitat in the next 80 years, according to the IUCN.
While it’s a good start in protecting the giant panda, conservationists warn that the other threats to the species are real and now is not the time to relax efforts.