Many have celebrated when the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently took the pandas off its endangered list last September 5. For a conservationist, however, the decision was too rushed.
Pandas Are No Longer Endangered
IUCN has decided to downgrade the conservation status of pandas from endangered to vulnerable. It has become evident that the reason for this change is the increase in the population of pandas in the wild. According to Reuters, the number of pandas grew from 1,100 to 1,864 by the end of 2015. The government also revealed that 422 of them are in captivity.
A factor that contributed to this is they were able to improve the habitat of the pandas. There are now 67 protected panda reserves. According to the Economist, two-thirds of wild pandas live in these reserves. This is after decades of conservation efforts by the Chinese government. They have to be lauded for this. In fact, Lo Sze Ping of WWF-China has stated that everyone should celebrate.
However, some conservationists say that IUCN's move is not very well thought of.
The Vulnerable Status Might Be Harmful
China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda conservationist Zhang Hemin has expressed his concern. He said that the protection work done on the pandas might slacken off. The pandas and their habitat will more likely suffer irrevocable loss.
The 'father of pandas' also added that the lives of pandas are still threatened by severely fragmented natural habitat. Even if genetic transfer between different populations will improve, it will not be satisfactory.
It's not yet the right time to relegate pandas as a species that is no longer endangered. He explained that as long as the wild population of pandas is not growing steadily, excluding the captive-bred ones, the species should still be maintained as endangered.
Wolong National Nature Reserve conservationist Shi Xiaogang also agreed by saying that the situation of the wild pandas is still very risky.