China: Giant Pandas Still Endangered, Here's Why

First Posted: Sep 07, 2016 05:03 AM EDT

There had been announcements from National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund, among others, that giant pandas are no longer considered endangered animals. Efforts to save the iconic animals have started to pay off, and the increasing over the past few years has led to the announcement.

However, despite positive results, China disputed the ruling of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, saying that their iconic species are still "endangered," and Chinese officials are not happy about the attention. China's State Forestry Administration said in a statement, "If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the population and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss, and our achievements could be quickly lost."

Still, the conservation efforts did well: according to VOA News, the Wolong National Nature Reserve in the Sichuan Province, which was established in 1980, did a good job in increasing the panda population. From fewer than 1,000 at the time, the latest report already saw at least 1,864 giant pandas in the wild, up from less than 1,600 just 12 years ago.

China's panda reserves have a network similar to that of the US National Park System, and have been recognized and credited with much of the panda population boom. The senior adviser for conservation and sustainable development at Wolong reserve, Marc Brody said, "there is no justifiable reason to downgrade the listing from endangered to threatened. Panda habitat is in fact decreasing from ongoing fragmentation from highway construction, active tourism development in Sichuan province, and other human economic activities."

Simply put, the increase in numbers may be positive, but it doesn't meant that China could be lax on their efforts in recovering the panda population - the IUCN believes that climate change can eliminate more than 35 percent of their habitats by the end of the century.

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