Number of wild pandas increases to nearly 1,900

By Yan Dongjie (China Daily) 09:39, January 26, 2024

A wild giant panda is seen in Sichuan Province in February. [Photo/Xinhua]

The number of wild giant pandas in China has increased from around 1,100 in the 1980s to nearly 1,900 now, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration said on Thursday.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has adjusted the threat perception status of giant pandas from "endangered" to "vulnerable", which indicates that China's conservation efforts have been recognized by the international wildlife conservation community, Zhang Yue, deputy director of the Wildlife Conservation Department of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, said.

"The remarkable achievements in protecting giant pandas and their habitats in China have attracted global attention," Zhang said.

In order to strengthen giant panda conservation, China has conducted four nationwide surveys, gaining an understanding of the wild population and its distribution. Building on this foundation, key ecological projects have been vigorously implemented to continuously enhance the protection of the wild population and their habitats.

In October 2021, China established the Giant Panda National Park, spread over Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, with a total area of more than 22,000 square kilometers, to provide strict protection to approximately 72 percent of the wild giant panda population.

In addition to the wild population, the global captive population of giant pandas now stands at 728, with 46 born last year in China and overseas.

Zhang said the genetic similarities between individual captive pandas is gradually decreasing, while the genetic diversity among the captive population continues to increase. Scientists say the existing captive population can maintain 90 percent of its genetic diversity for up to 200 years.

Zhang said that in 2003, China initiated captive giant panda wilderness training and reintroduction studies. Twelve captive giant pandas were successively trained for wilderness survival and then reintroduced into the wild, with 10 of them surviving.

Simultaneously, 12 cubs survived after male giant pandas from the wild were introduced to captive females, achieving an exchange of bloodlines between the wild and captive populations and further promoting the enhancement of genetic diversity in the captive population.

Giant pandas are not only first-class protected wild animals in China but also beloved by people around the world, with 56 living abroad. Since the 1990s, China has successively collaborated on giant panda conservation with 26 institutions from 20 countries, with 68 cubs from 41 litters born overseas so far.

At the end of last year, 18 countries including Japan, the United States, Thailand, Australia and the Netherlands were conducting collaborative research on giant panda conservation with China.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


Related Stories