After decades of attempts to try to save the species, the giant panda is finally no longer at risk of becoming extinct.
For decades, panda bears were the icon of endangered species worldwide. It inspired the logo for one of the largest organizations that deals with preserving endangered animals, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). But it seems the organization should be rebranding now.
The giant panda population grew by 17% during in years between 2004 and 2014. Two years ago, there were nearly 2000 pandas in the wild, in China, according to a IUCN report. By contrast, in the ‘70s, when authorities realized the species was in danger, there about 2.500 animals all around the world.
Since then, the Chinese government have been tirelessly to save the species. In 1981, they banned panda pelt trading. However, the biggest threat to the pandas was loss of habitat. So, in 1992 the Chinese government established a panda reserve system. Right now, China has 67 reservations, with a combined grand total 1.4 million hectares of land where they can live in safety.
The effort to save the giant panda has had some other, indirect positive effect. It encouraged a dialogue between Chinese scientists and organizations and specialists from all around the world. Their work on preserving this species has benefited the whole field of zoology and animal conservation worldwide.
The director of the WWF, Marco Lambertini stated, “The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity”
However, even though specialists no longer see pandas as an endangered species , they are still considered vulnerable. The greatest threat pandas face now is climate change. Specialists believe that around 35% of their natural habitat could disappear because of pollution and changes in temperatures.
The Giant Panda May Be Safe, But Other Species Are Still in Danger
Now that wildlife organizations and zoologists all around the world can breathe a sigh of relief regarding the panda, their attention turns to another species.
Eastern gorillas seem to be grabbing the media’s attention. They live primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo, northwest Rwanda and the southern parts of Uganda. They prefer living in the forests of the mountainous regions.
Experts believe that there are less than 5000 individuals right now, which classifies them as critically endangered.
Eastern gorillas consist of two subspecies. Of the two, mountain gorillas are faring better. Their population was in decline since 1996, but recently it has grown with about 880 individuals.
Grauer’s gorilla on the other hand is doing far worse. Their population dropped from around 16.000 individuals to just 3.800 during the past decades, according to the IUCN. There are plenty of reasons why these animals are disappearing, chief among them being loss of habitat and illegal poaching.
Right now, there are currently four species of great apes on the list for critically endangered species. These are the eastern gorilla, Bornean orangutan, western gorilla and the Sumatran orangutan. The only two other species who are not on this list, the chimpanzee and the bonobo, are still considered endangered, but not critically so.
Loss of habitat and poaching are among the main reasons why these species face extinction. Mining operations have been especially harsh on their natural habitats
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