Giant panda no longer endangered in China

When you think of “endangered species”, it’s hard not to imagine the giant panda. This bicolor bear, the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund and China’s National Treasure, the emblem of endangered fauna, has long been erected as a symbol endangered animal media icon. But recently, Beijing no longer considers it as such …

1800 giant pandas in the wild

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment has just announced its decision remove the giant panda from the list of endangered animals. Ailuropoda melanoleuca is now classified as “vulnerable” by Chinese authorities.

This status change is motivated restoration of the giant panda population in the wild. Thanks to the many conservation efforts undertaken by China, the population has increased and reached 1800 individuals in the wild. For comparison: in 2003 there were 1596 of them, and only in the 1980s – just over 1100 people.

For Cui Shuhong, head of the Ecology and Nature Protection Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, this figure is ” reflects the improvement in their living conditions and China’s efforts to preserve their habitat. “, he said at a press conference on July 7, 2021.

Giant panda at Chengdu Research Center

Giant panda at the Chengdu Research Center.

Too hasty decision?

You might think that China, with only 1,800 giant pandas, has not yet succeeded in completely saving this species from extinction. Some may even think that this decision is too hasty.

When the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded the bear’s status from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2016, the Chinese authorities were also scared. They were afraid that this change in status would mislead people, make them believe that the giant panda was no longer in such danger and that conservation efforts could be relaxed.

Thus, this announcement is the first big event, which may seem unexpected, given the position of China a few years ago. But it reflects authorities’ optimism about the conservation of the giant panda.

Conservation of pandas in China

It must be said that Beijing tried to save its national treasure. Without the efforts made to protect it, it would probably have died out. But China didn’t want that.

In 1992 she created a national plan dedicated to its conservation and initiated several projects creation of reserves. Goal: To protect the giant panda’s natural habitat: the bamboo forest, on which it feeds 99%. In 2019, China had 11,800 nature reserves occupies 18% of the entire territory of the country.

Belonging captive breeding centers and partnerships with zoos around the world have also helped increase the birth rate of panda cubs around the world, which has been a major problem in population renewal as the species is difficult to breed. Average, about fifty panda cubs are born in captivity Every year. Some of them will be reintroduced in one of the Chinese nature reserves.

If China’s strategy to protect its panda may seem open to criticism on some points – such as leasing pandas to zoos or sidelining other more endangered species – that doesn’t stop it from bearing fruit. . To the point of persuading a country, however cautious, to join the IUCN.

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