Giant pandas no longer endangered
DECADES of conservation work in China have paid off for the giant panda, whose status was changed on Sunday from "endangered" to "vulnerable" due to a population rebound, officials said.
The improvement for the giant panda was announced as part of an update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the world's most comprehensive inventory of plants and animals.
The latest estimates show a population of 1,864 adult giant pandas.
Although exact numbers are not available, adding cubs to the projection would mean about 2,060 pandas exist today, said the IUCN.
"Evidence from a series of range-wide national surveys indicate that the previous population decline has been arrested, and the population has started to increase," said the IUCN's updated report.
The cornerstones of the Chinese effort to bring back its fuzzy, black and white national icon have included an intense effort to replant bamboo forests, which provide food and shelter for the bears.
Through its "rent-a-panda" captive breeding programme, China has also loaned some bears to zoos abroad in exchange for cash, and re-invested that money in conservation efforts.
"When push comes to shove, the Chinese have done a really good job with pandas," said John Robinson, a primatologist and chief conservation officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Red List includes 82,954 species - both plants and animals.
Almost one third - 23,928 - are threatened with extinction, it said.