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Giant Pandas, Symbol of Conservation, Are No Longer Endangered


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HONOLULU, HAWAII efforts to save the giant panda, a worldwide symbol of wildlife conservation for half a century, are paying off: The black-and-white bear is no longer endangered, the international body for species protection said on Sunday. Native to Chinese bamboo forests, the panda was upgraded from endangered to vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species, managed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The newest update to the list includes 82,954 species, 23,928 of which are threatened with extinction. Giant panda populations in the wild have risen steadily by 17 percent in the decade up to 2014, when a nationwide census found 1,850 giant pandas in the wild in China. That’s up from the last census of 1,600 animals in 2003.“It’s a good day to be a panda,” Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for wildlife conservation at WWF, a nonprofit whose logo is the giant panda. “We’re thrilled.” Success for the giant panda, endangered since 1990, is thanks to two factors: A marked decrease in poaching, which was rampant in the 1980s; and a huge expansion of the animal’s protected habitat. China now has 67 panda reserves, which are similar to U.S. national parks, says Hemley. She also noted that the Tibetan antelope, an endangered species slaughtered in past decades for its fine fur, is also recovering. The mountain species is now listed as near-threatened, according to the Red List. “This is a deserved status,” says M. Sanjayan, senior scientist at the nonprofit Conservation International. “The Chinese government has put in 30 years of hard work in pandas—[they are] not going to let the panda go extinct.” However, Marc Brody, senior adviser for conservation and sustainable development at China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, says "it is too early to conclude that pandas are actually increasing in the wild—perhaps we are simply getting better at counting wild pandas."  "While the Chinese government deserves credit and support for recent progress in management of both captive and wild giant pandas … there is no justifiable reason to downgrade the listing from endangered to threatened," he says. "In fact, 'suitable' or quality panda habitat is in fact decreasing from ongoing fragmentation from highway construction, active tourism development in Sichuan Province, and other human economic activities."

Read More: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/pandas-vulnerable-endangered-species/

 

Posted by on Sep 5 2016. Filed under Biodiversity, News From Roots. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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