Great news for giant pandas! Chinese wildlife officials have moved the iconic bears from the “endangered” classification to “vulnerable.” Although the bears are not out of the woods yet, the wild population has reached 1,800, making a significant milestone in conservation efforts.
The population recovery success is due to a large-scale conservation effort focused primarily on habitat restoration and protection. Pandas’ short breeding window makes them a particularly difficult species to repopulate, even in captivity.
The Union for Conservation of Nature voted to change the giant panda’s classification a year ago, but China was hesitant to make the switch, concerned that changing the classification would deceive people into thinking the population was healthier than it actually was.
Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation said in a statement that the classification change “reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated.”