BEIJING, China — Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species thanks to conservation efforts, Chinese officials announced this week.
Cui Shuhong, the head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, said Wednesday that the species will be reclassified as vulnerable.
The ministry said in a statement that the removal of the giant panda from the list of endangered animals indicates that nature reserves are successfully preserving China’s biodiversity.
"The panda population in the wild has risen to about 1,800, which reflects their improved living conditions and China's efforts in keeping their habitats integrated," Shuhong said at a press conference.
China says it has implemented several protection methods to safeguard the species, including setting up panda reserves, relocating residents from panda habitats, training local people to be rangers, and breeding pandas in captivity.
China says the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced in 2016 that the giant panda’s status had been changed from endangered to vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species, but the country’s wildlife authorities remained cautious about the change at that time.
At that time, they believed it was too early to remove giant pandas from the list of endangered animals based on the situation in China.
Along with the panda progress, Chinese officials said the numbers of Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and crested ibises have also grown rapidly in the country, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reports.