By Tiffany Pizzuto
In the midst of climate change causing catastrophic losses toward our biodiversity and altering our ecosystems, there is some positive news announced by the Chinese environmental ministry – the giant panda’s status has changed from endangered to vulnerable.
The change to the species’ status “reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts in keeping their habitats integrated,” said Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation.
Delighted at the news, social media users saying that “it is proof conservation efforts are working”. However, Chinese officials are worried that it could mislead people into believing conservation efforts could be relaxed.
So, although it is an exciting achievement, giant pandas continue to suffer from threats to their existence, especially from habitat destruction from urban development and climate change, which has also lead to food shortages.
Giant pandas are herbivorous, and their main source of food is bamboo which bloom seasonally. When a type of bamboo which grows in a particular season is destroyed by development, it means that the animals will go that whole season without the source of food, increasing their risks of starvation.
That is why wildlife reserves have been set up in China to make sure the pandas have a home. Researchers are also working hard to continue studies on how pandas breed in an effort to conserve and increase populations.
The breeding rate of pandas is very slow as they ovulate in Spring just once a year and they give birth to one cub at a time.
Severe threats from humans have left just over 1800 pandas in the wild according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Feature image: Giant pandas and their fans have reason to celebrate. Picture: ironmanixs/CC/flickr