Kolkata, India: One of the world’s most-adored and universally recognized animals, the giant panda is no longer endangered, the species’ native hinterland, China said Friday.
Nonetheless, the adorable monochrome animals, known for their docile nature and unparalleled hunger for bamboos, still remain vulnerable, the BBC reported.
The downgrade to giant panda’s classification comes as their population surpasses 1800 individuals in the wild, an increment of hundreds as compared to the last few decades.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) removed the animal from its endangered species list in 2016 and reclassified it as “vulnerable.”
According to experts, China was able to save its famous mammal through long-term conservation measures, which included habitat extension.
Pandas are considered a national treasure in China, yet they have also been donated to other countries as diplomatic instruments.
It is said, every single panda adored by people in zoos across the world is owned by China.
At a press conference, Cui Shuhong, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said that the newest classification upgrading “reflects their improved living conditions and China’s efforts to preserve their habitats linked.”
According to experts, China’s efforts to restore and repopulate bamboo forests are partly responsible for the panda’s success.
Bamboo makes up nearly all of the panda’s nutrition needs, and they would starve if they didn’t eat it.
Although a not-so-friendly image in world politics, China has its own ways to forge political and diplomatic relationships with other nations.
Extensive geography means China is home to some of the world’s rarest species of animals, including the smaller brethren the red pandas.
Throughout the 1950s to the 80s, China, under its newly formed Communist leadership gifted a select few nations with its national treasure, including the US, France, and the UK.
Pandas are of so much importance to China, that since 1984, they were leased to other nations on a 10-year term with a hefty price tag of $1 million, per panda per year.
Not only this, every panda cub born to adults in any part of the world belonged and still belongs to China at all times.
In 2014, China delayed the delivery of a panda to Malaysia, angered by the nation’s way of handling the investigation of a missing flight that contained several Chinese passengers.