China's giant panda population is growing after the country's efforts to save the rare species from going extinct, an official confirmed last week.
Giant Pandas Endangered Status Eased
The National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) reported in a press conference that the number of giant pandas in the wild has nearly doubled from 1,114 decades ago to 1,864 today.
"The endangered status of the giant panda was further eased," said Yang Chao, an official from the NFGA.
The NFGA attributes the increase of the giant panda population to the rise of nature reserves in China. The country now has 67 nature reserves that house 66.8 percent of the wild giant panda and 53.8 percent of the total giant panda population.
Yang added that about two-thirds of the giant panda population are protected.
The East Asian superpower has also greenlighted and recently started work on a massive 27,000-square-kilometer national park (about twice the size of Yosemite) for the vulnerable species.
The giant pandas have been the face of efforts to save endangered species from extinction. The natives of China were added to the endangered list in the '90s after large areas of forests have been cleared for agriculture, human settlements, and etc. The population of giant pandas also became victims of poaching which was rampant in the '80s.
The species was removed from the endangered list in 2016.
"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," stated a press release from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). "The improved status confirms that the Chinese government's efforts to conserve this species are effective."
There are an estimated 2,060 giant pandas around the world today.
The Future Of Giant Pandas
While giant pandas have gained a reputation for being bad at breeding, the nature reserves will help increase the population of the black and white bears. In captivity, the giant pandas are rarely compatible — the male often does not know how to mount the female, explained Sky News. Because of nature reserves, compatible giant pandas will be able to find each other through calls and scents and mate to their own accord.
In addition, the World Wildlife Fund in its description of the species suggests that giant pandas have reproductive rates comparable to the black bears in the United States.
China is set to hold its first giant panda week from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26.