Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species, Chinese officials said after decades of work to rescue these creatures, whose numbers in the wild have now risen to 1,800.
Pandas are now classified as a vulnerable species, said Sui Shuhong, director of the Department of Environmental Protection at the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Environment.
For half a century, China has been trying to increase the number of individuals of this beloved animal, opening panda reserves across the country in an attempt to save them from extinction.
Pandas were removed from the list of endangered species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2016, but the Chinese authorities did not accept that decision at that time.
- China has established a relatively complete system of natural resources. Large parts of the ecosystem are systematically and completely protected, and the living world there has effectively improved, Sui said, adding that some other endangered species are recovering along with pandas.
- The number of Siberian tiger, grass carp, leopard, Asian elephant and ibis has also increased significantly.
Giant pandas are notorious for being very complicated to breed. Females can conceive only 24 to 72 hours a year.
Pandas are listed in China as a so-called umbrella species, which means that experts believe that measures to protect them can help other species, but also the ecosystem and the whole.
A successful panda conservation campaign has been to the detriment of some omnivores whose numbers have declined in recent decades, threatening larger ecosystems, according to a joint study by Chinese and American scientists.