The fate of the giant panda has been uncertain for many years and the lovable animals have been on the endangered species list for a while now, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) finally shared some amazing news about the bears this past weekend.

Giant pandas have been removed from the endangered species list! They are now just “vulnerable,” which isn’t perfect, but it’s a huge step forward. The international wildlife monitoring group also announced that the Tibetan antelope has been removed from the endangered species list.

But the rest of the announcement was grim: The eastern gorilla has moved one step closer to extinction and the plains zebra is now “near threatened” because of hunting.

I.U.C.N. is an international environmental group that assesses the status of all known species of plants and animals on the planet. It made the announcement of the giant panda’s new designation on September 4 in an updated report of the I.U.C.N. Red List of Threatened Species.

Giant pandas are revered as a national symbol in China and the Chinese government’s efforts to revive native panda populations through reforestation and forest protection initiatives have been successful.

The species has experienced a slow increase in numbers since 1985, but a recent survey from between 2011 and 2014 finally confirmed that wild panda populations are really bouncing back. The survey found an estimated 2,060 pandas in the wild.

But we’re not out of the woods yet, the I.U.C.N. anticipates that climate change could destroy over 35 percent of the giant panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.

So the future of the giant panda is still uncertain, but this news proves that conservation actions are effective, and perhaps we could still turn the tide and protect the future of the planet.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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