Giant pandas are no longer endangered, according to an announcement made by the Chinese government. The number of pandas in the wild in China has reached 1,800; this doesn’t include those in captivity or protected shelters. Consequently, the animals are no longer endangered, but are still vulnerable.

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In 2016, the International Union for Nature Conservation removed giant pandas from the endangered species list, classifying them as vulnerable. China has now followed suit, due to an increase in giant panda numbers in the country.

Related: Panda conservation efforts lead to unexpected losses

In a statement, Cui Shuhong, head of the Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation in the Ministry of Environment, said the reclassification is due to improved living conditions. He also pointed out that these results come from China’s efforts to restore giant panda habitats.

Earlier, experts opposed declaring giant pandas no longer endangered, arguing that such a move would spur complacence. As a result, China maintained the “vulnerable” status for its pandas even after being delisted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Besides giant pandas, the Chinese government has also reported significant improvement in Siberian Tiger, Amur leopard, Asian elephant, and crested ibis numbers. The government says that all these improvements are due to conservation efforts.

The news has been celebrated on social media. One post read, “It shows all the efforts have been paid off. Well done,” while another noted, “It’s a good start indeed, but there are still threats to these species. Do not relax.”

Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “the concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. We stand ready to work with all sides to strengthen international cooperation in ecological preservation and environmental management to jointly.”

Despite these improvements, the pandas still face long-term threats. According to the IUCN, climate change could destroy about 35% of their bamboo habitats in 80 years.

Via The Guardian

Lead image via Pexels