Giant pandas no longer endangered, thanks to nature reserves: China

File photo of a panda at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base in China's Sichuan province. PHOTO: CHINA NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE
File photo of a panda at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base in China's Sichuan province. PHOTO: CHINA NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE

BEIJING • The removal of the giant panda from the list of endangered animals indicates that nature reserves are performing their duties in preserving the nation's biodiversity, a Chinese official has said.

"The panda population in the wild has risen to about 1,800, which reflects their improved living conditions and China's efforts in keeping their habitats integrated," Mr Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, told a news conference last Wednesday.

The fourth census on China's panda population by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration found that 1,864 pandas were living in the wild by 2013, up from 1,596 in 2003 when the third census was taken.

Since the 1970s, China has held four panda censuses, one every decade, focused on Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu, where most of the pandas are located.

China's protection methods include setting up panda reserves, relocating residents from panda habitats, training local people to be rangers and breeding pandas.

In 2018, the Giant Panda National Park Administration based in Sichuan was set up.

The park, which connects fragmented habitats, also takes in parts of Shaanxi and Gansu provinces and covers 87.5 per cent of the country's entire panda population.

"Since 2006, we have managed to breed an increasing number of pandas in captivity," said a staff member from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Sichuan.

In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that the giant panda's status had been changed from "endangered" to "vulnerable" on the Red List of Threatened Species.

But the Chinese wildlife authorities remained cautious, saying it was still too early to remove giant pandas from the list of endangered animals based on the actual situation in China.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 11, 2021, with the headline 'Giant pandas no longer endangered, thanks to nature reserves: China'. Subscribe