Giant pandas have been downgraded from its status as a ‘critically endangered’ species to ‘vulnerable’ after population has increased to 1,800 in the wild, according to Chinese conservation officials. 

There’s finally some good news for giant pandas in China. 

Chinese officials have announced following long-term conservation efforts in expanding nature reserves and habitats, giant panda populations have increased up to 1,800 in the wild and are no longer considered to be critically endangered

The country has dedicated extensive resources and efforts in repopulating bamboo forests, which accounts for 99% of a giant panda’s diet, and in expanding biodiversity protection and ecological restoration in nature reserves. By the end of 2019, China was looking after up to 11,800 nature reserves, which makes up about 18% of the country’s land area, as well as a high volume of botanical gardens and wildlife breeding bases. 

Giant pandas are regarded as national treasures in China, and are often gifted to countries on a 10-year loan basis as part of diplomatic exchanges. Known for its distinctive black and white coat, giant pandas are mostly found in forests high in the mountains of southwest China, and can eat around 26 to 84 pounds of it every day

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This is not the first time giant pandas made headlines in regards to its repopulation. Back in 2016, the animal was removed from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and its endangered species list and was similarly reclassified as vulnerable. However, Chinese officials contested the decision at the time and warned how it would potentially relax conservation efforts. It was unclear what justifications the IUCN made in downgrading giant pandas’ ‘critical’ status. 

Aside from rebounding numbers in the wild, Chinese zoos have also seen an increase through captive breeding methods. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment also announced the population of several other rare and engaging species including Siberian tigers, Asian elephants and crested ibises have experienced positive growth as result of forest expansions and conservation efforts.