China declares pandas no longer endangered—but threats persist
Competition with native wildlife could deter efforts to boost populations of the famous black-and-white bear in its native habitat.
Hong Kong The giant panda, China’s national animal, is a global symbol of cuteness. But the black-and-white bears have long suffered for their irresistible qualities—poached for their pelts, smuggled out of the country as cubs to the U.S. and Japan, and speculated on like a tradeable stock by zoo collectors.
By the 1980s, their numbers in the wild had fallen to just over a thousand. Extinction loomed.
But this summer, pandas also became a global symbol of conservation success. Chinese officials announced that the animals—whose wild population has almost doubled after 30 years of government-led recovery efforts—are no longer endangered.
In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature had already downlisted the giant panda from endangered to vulnerable,