The species will be classified as vulnerable now that the number of giant pandas living in the wild has exceeded 1,800, said Cui Shuhong, director of the Chinese Department of Natural Ecological Protection of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, during a press conference on Wednesday.
"China has established a relatively complete nature reserves system," Cui said. "Large areas of natural ecosystems have been systematically and completely protected, and wildlife habitats have been effectively improved."
Conservation groups spent the past 50 years establishing giant panda reservations throughout the country's mountain ranges to fight the threat of extinction. The government of China banned the poaching of pandas and trading of their skins in 1981.
China has at least 67 reserves protecting about two-thirds of its giant panda population as of 2016.
Giant pandas were initially moved off the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s endangered species list in 2016. However, Chinese officials did not embrace the announcement at the time.
China’s State Forestry Administration said in September 2016 it would be premature to downgrade the conservation status, noting the decades it took to reinforce the once-imperiled population.
Data from the SFA's Panda Census show giant panda populations were at an all-time low between 1985 and 1988 when only around 1,114 pandas lived in the wild.
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese
Original Location: China says giant pandas no longer endangered