The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced yesterday that the giant panda's designated status as an "endangered" species has been upgraded to "vulnerable." The IUCN report, which came as part of an update to their "red list" of at-risk plants and animals, stated that the giant panda "population has grown due to effective forest protection and reforestation. The improved status confirms that the Chinese government's efforts to conserve this species are effective."
Animal conservationists at the World Wildlife Fund, which uses a giant panda in its logo, hailed the comeback as a testimony to the effectiveness of habitat and species conservation efforts. "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," said WWF Director General Marco Lambertini in a statement issued yesterday.
The WWF additionally reported that the giant panda population grew approximately 17 percent between 2004 and 2014.
That doesn't mean that the giant panda is out of the woods just yet.
The IUCN noted that unless panda habitats are protected, a reversal of this progress could come and swiftly, stating that "climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35 percent of the Panda's bamboo habitat in the next 80 years and thus Panda population is projected to decline, reversing the gains made during the last two decades."
To learn more about giant pandas and how to help, please visit the World Wildlife Fund.
Cover image: Wikipedia / Sheila Lau