The conservation community is enjoying some good news as it’s been announced that giant pandas are no longer endangered in the wild in China. The announcement was made by Cui Shuhong, head of the environment ministry’s department of nature and ecology conservation, who credited the change in classification to China’s dedication to preserving biodiversity in habitats and, in turn, improving conditions for wild giant pandas.
There are estimated to be around 1,800 pandas living outside of captivity in China and having clawed their way back from near-extinction are now listed as “vulnerable” rather than "endangered" by the Chinese government. This comes five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List also downgraded them, which was argued against by Chinese experts at the time for being too soon. While the species is by no means out of the extinction threat woods, the news is cause for celebration as it appears that China’s national treasure isn’t quite finished with Earth just yet.
While restoring wild populations is the ultimate goal for any conservation initiative, the news is perhaps a particular relief for fans of giant pandas, which have proven to be famously indifferent towards mating in captivity. Everything from panda porn to speed dating has been employed to try and get captive animals in the mood but the creative solutions rarely saw much success. One captive pair did happen to get it on during lockdown last year (after a decade wait), but footage from Copenhagen Zoo demonstrated that some animals are far more interested in food than fornication.
At a conference on July 8, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that the giant panda’s reclassification was just one of many recent successes in China’s latest efforts to restore its wild spaces.
“We are glad to see one great story after another in China's ecology conservation efforts. The living conditions of rare and endangered species in the wild such as giant panda, Tibetan antelope, and the milu deer have all been improved. Appearances of mysterious species such as the Chinese mountain cat and rufous-necked hornbill were once again captured.
“We've seen Siberian tigers paying visits to villages, wild Asian elephants on a northward journey, and a whale spotted in Shenzhen's Dapeng Bay. The concept that lush mountains and clear water are worth their weight in gold and silver has taken root among the public in China. Respect for, harmony with and protection of nature has become a conscious choice for all levels of government and the public.”
[H/T: The Guardian]