giant_panda_flickr_george_lu.jpg

It’s a good day to be a giant panda — the beloved black-and-white bear is officially no longer an endangered species, thanks largely to decades of work by conservationists in China.

The estimated number adult giant pandas is now 1,864. Factoring in cubs, the total number of giant pandas is about 2,060, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the organization responsible for tracking and labeling species facing endangerment. This is a 17% increase from 2004 to 2014.

The giant panda, which lives natively in Chinese bamboo forests, moved from the “endangered” category to the “vulnerable” category in the IUCN’s latest assessment. 

Read More: Elephants Could Be the Next Generation’s Dinosaurs

“Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF Director General, said in a statement. 

The giant panda has been on the endangered list since 1990. National Geographic says two things have lead to the animal’s population growth: a decrease in poaching, and a massive expansion on protected habitats. 

The Chinese government has also expanded partnerships with conservation organizations to help pandas flourish. Pandas are loaned to zoos in countries like the US where they are bred. 

Read More: Costa Rica Is Trying to Go a Year Without Fossil Fuels

eastern_gorilla_ap.jpgImage: AP

The Eastern gorilla is not doing as well, according to the IUCN report. The world’s largest living primate was moved onto the critically endangered list. Now four of six great ape species are near extinction. 

There are an estimated 5,000 Eastern gorillas left in the wild which is a decline of 70% in the last 20 years. Illegal hunting of the ape was cited as the primary cause for its dwindling numbers. 

Read More: Pope Urges Climate Action, 3,500 UK Churches Switch to Renewable Energy

"To see the eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide toward extinction is truly distressing," Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, said in a statement. "Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet."

Gorillas face a steeper climb than pandas, which have the support of the Chinese governement. Many gorillas live in the Congo, which is politically unstable and unlikely to be able to lead conservation efforts, primatologist Russell Mittermeier, executive vice chairman of the Conservation International environmental group and chairman of IUCN's primates specialist group, told the AP.

"There are no simple solutions right now, other than a much greater investment in on-the-ground protection until the region stabilizes, at which time major ecotourism, as is happening in the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, can take place," Mittermeier said.


By taking action on Global Citizen, you will have a chance to win tickets to this year's Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Sept. 24, 2016.

Ready to take action?

News

Defend the Planet

Pandas Are Off the Endangered List, But Eastern Gorillas Are Added

By Cassie Carothers