A groundbreaking new report claims that the panda isn't endangered anymore, but that may not be 100 percent true.
In a huge new development for the beloved giant panda these last few days, the species has been taken off the endangered species list and downgraded to “vulnerable” — but experts aren’t exactly ready to break out the champagne. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a nongovernmental organization that tracks species around teh globe, has officially listed the species of vulnerable but not as close to extinction as before, but many — including the Chinese government — don’t quite agree with that assessment, according to media reports.
IUCN announced their new classification on Sunday in Hawaii. The organizations ranks species from “least concern” to “extinct.”
In a statement, IUCN praised the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve the species. The problem is that it is difficult to count the animals with the amount of confidence necessary to make such declarations — for example, researchers use tooth marks in bamboo that is extracted from scat to identify individuals. And the accuracy of comparing one survey to another is difficult, as sometimes they take place over different sized areas, for example. Many experts are saying it’s just too early to say that pandas are increasing in the wild, it may be that they are simply getting better at counting pandas.
“Previously listed as Endangered, The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is now listed as Vulnerable, as its population has grown due to effective forest protection and reforestation,” IUCN wrote in its statement. “The improved status confirms that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective. However, climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35% of the Panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years and thus Panda population is projected to decline, reversing the gains made during the last two decades. To protect this iconic species, it is critical that the effective forest protection measures are continued and that emerging threats are addressed. The Chinese government’s plan to expand existing conservation policy for the species is a positive step and must be strongly supported to ensure its effective implementation.”