An estimated 1,864 giant pandas lived in the wild in China in 2014, up from 1,596 just 10 years earlier, an International Union for Conservation of Nature census found.
“Just by restoring the panda’s habitat, that’s given them back their space and made food available to them”, said Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of IUCN’s Red List.
“Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats”, Marco Lambertini, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) director general, said.
But there was some bad news.
The IUCN said its population has dropped more than 70 percent in 20 years. The agency added that they are not being alarmist by emphasizing the panda species’ endangered status.
A surge in illegal hunting is threatening the eastern gorilla, the world’s largest primate, an global conservation group has said. Nearly 23,928 of the listed are may be extinct in the coming years if proper conservation will not be carried out. In 1992, a reserve system for pandas was implemented; today, there are 67 reserves in the country that protect 67 percent of the population and almost 1.4 million hectares of habitat.
The IUCN said in a report that the panda is now classified as “vulnerable” instead of “endangered”, reflecting growing numbers in the wild in southern China.
At the end of 2015, China had 1,864 giant pandas in the wild, increasing from about 1,100 in 2000, and there were 422 in captivity, according to the SFA.
Overall, the IUCN Red List, which gets upgrade after every four years, is now includes more than 8,000 species of which a staggering 24,000 are critically endangered. They have also helped to safeguard large swathes of mountainous bamboo forests, which shelter countless other species.
Pandas weren’t the only animals to receive good news this weekend – the IUCN also acknowledged conservation success for the Tibetan Antelope, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and the Greater Stick-nest Rat.
Illegal mining has decimated the lowlands of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a Grauer’s gorilla habitat.