Chinese officials have altered the status of giant pandas from “endangered” to “vulnerable” as their numbers increase with population growth.
Numbers on the Rise
As of today, Chinese officials report that there are about 1,800 giant pandas in the wild. This means that within the past decade, giant pandas have increased their population by seventeen percent (WWF).
This new exciting title cannot be solely credited to the environmental changes. Considered a national treasure for quite some time, the nation has attempted to preserve this species since the 1960s when they first were deemed at risk of extinction. Since then, China has built numerous reserves for pandas to allow them to roam in peace and simultaneously interact with humans. In Southern China alone there are 40 centers, consisting of both land allotments and scientific research centers to learn more about their lifestyles and habits. The reserves protect the habitat of the giant panda and make sure that its home is not destroyed due to logging, tourism, or clearing out for infrastructure and farmland.
Additionally, those in towns near the panda’s natural habitat make an effort to not disrupt their environment. The villagers have learned ways to change their habits to make sure that they are panda-friendly and protect their homes. These communities and their willingness to help are a large contributor to their recent incline.
China has also made and enforced more laws to minimize illegal actions carried out against pandas such as hunting and poaching. A logging ban was additionally created in 1998.
An Uncertain Future
Although numbers appear to be stabilizing now, there are many possible threats that will present themselves to pandas in the future. One of the more pressing concerns is climate change. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), climate change has the potential to ruin over thirty-five percent of the panda’s bamboo supply within the next eighty years.
In the past, pandas were very commonly hunted for their pelts. Now, more commonly pandas are harmed unintentionally by humans. In the wild, they fall victim to traps and snares made for game such as deer. With such a small population, this can be very harmful to their numbers.