China removes giant pandas from endangered species list
Giant pandas are no longer endangered after decades of conservation efforts, Chinese officials announced this week.
Why it matters: China's efforts over the last half-century to expand giant pandas' habitats helped drive their population in the wild up to 1,800, according to CNN.
- The species will be re-classified as vulnerable, Cui Shuhong, director of the Department of Natural Ecological Protection of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a press conference this week.
The big picture: China's announcement comes five years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature removed giant pandas from the endangered species list.
- Many Chinese experts were reluctant to do the same, arguing that it was misleading and would cause complacency in China, according to The Guardian.
- Since the 1970s, Chinese officials have worked to drive up the species' numbers, creating nature reserves in areas where bamboo is plentiful.
- In 2017, China created a sprawling reserve — 10,476-square-miles — that is three times the size of Yellowstone National Park, per CNN.
What they're saying: "China has established a relatively complete nature reserves system," Cui said.
- "Large areas of natural ecosystems have been systematically and completely protected, and wildlife habitats have been effectively improved."
Of note: The number of some other rare and endangered species, such as Siberian tigers, Amur leopards, Asian elephants and crested ibis, have also "increased significantly," Cui added.