By Garret Gallego
The giant panda has been on the endangered species list since the 1980s, a time when relief efforts to save the animal were in full swing. Those efforts have since paid off, because on Sept. 4 the giant panda was officially taken off the endangered species list.
According to CNN, from 2000 to 2004, the giant panda population was estimated to be around 1,596. A 2015 study found that the population had risen to 2,060, designating them no longer as endangered, but vulnerable. The giant pandas have seen an increase in population from 2014 of 17 percent and have been continuing to repopulate.
The Director General of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, an organization dedicated to conservation projects for international wildlife since 1961, stated that “the recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”
While many have rejoiced at the news of the giant panda, China’s State Forestry Administration has had a less than optimistic response to the removal of the endangered status. One of its officials said that “if we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss, and our achievements would be quickly lost.”
Along with the giant pandas, the West Indian manatee has also seen a stroke of good luck. The U.S Fish and Wildlife service has made a request to officially remove the manatees from the endangered species list and to reclassify them as threatened.
The manatees were one of the first species added to the endangered species back in 1972. A study in 1991 found the population of the manatees in Florida to be around 1,267. However, they have since seen a 500 percent increase and now have a population of 6,300.
Although the two species have shown improvement in numbers, a long road lies ahead to complete recovery of their populations.