Finally some good news in the animal kingdom – the giant panda has been removed from the endangered species act after significant population growth over the last decade. They are now listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. In 2009, officials declared the panda would go extinct within three generations without concerted measures to save them, according to Science Alert. Now, despite extraordinary odds, there are said to be roughly 2,060 pandas living in the wild – up 17 percent since China first instilled wide-ranging protective measures.
“Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase,” according to the updated IUCN report. “The improved status confirms that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective.”
Measures to restore the wild panda population in China include forest protection and reforestation – to ensure necessary habitat. There are now 67 reserves throughout China dedicated to preserving two thirds of the global panda population. As Science Alert notes, pandas need to eat up to 14 hours a day – or up to 27.5 pounds of bamboo – in order to survive. That combined with their poor breeding habits, particularly in captivity, makes protecting this species particularly challenging – and leaves them vulnerable to climate change.
Although the population is currently increasing, climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35 percent of the Panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, and thus the Panda population is projected to decline,” according to the report. “The threat of declining bamboo availability due to climate change could, in the near future, reverse the gains made during the last two decades.”
While the future still looks bleak for pandas, it’s not the first time it has appeared this way. The challenges we still face to save this and other species, including our own, are still not insurmountable. Marco Lambertini, WWF Director General, said in a press statement, “The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will, and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”
Via Science Alert