The Giant Panda Is No Longer Endangered. It’s ‘Vulnerable.’
The giant panda has long languished on the endangered species list, but an international monitoring group finally had some good news for it over the weekend.
The pandas were removed from the endangered list, along with the Tibetan antelope. But the monitors issued a grim warning about the fate of the eastern gorilla, which has moved one step closer to extinction. It also said that the plains zebra has become “near threatened” because of hunting.
The new designations were announced on Sunday in a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a leading environmental group that tracks the status of plant and animal species.
新名单是追踪动植物物种状况的著名环保组织国际自然保护联盟（International Union for Conservation of Nature，简称IUCN）周日在一份报告中宣布的。
Giant pandas are national symbol in China, their native habitat, and the I.U.C.N. said on Sunday that efforts by the Chinese government to reverse the slide of the population, using forest protection and reforestation, had been successful. The panda’s new designation is “vulnerable.”
The conservation union said researchers have cautiously increased estimates of the panda population in every study since 1985, but data from the most recent survey conducted between 2011 and 2014 removed any uncertainty about the rebound by the species. That study found an estimated 1,864 giant pandas in the wild, not counting cubs under the age of 18 months.
The one remaining source of concern, however, is a big one. The I.U.C.N. warned that climate change could destroy more than 35 percent of the animal’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, leaving its future in doubt.
“Whereas the decision to downlist the giant panda to vulnerable is a positive sign confirming that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective, it is critically important that these protective measures are continued, and that emerging threats are addressed,” the group wrote in its giant panda assessment.
China said it was less optimistic about the animal’s progress, however. The State Forestry Administration disputed the conservation group’s decision in a statement to The Associated Press, saying pandas struggle to reproduce in the wild and live in small groups spread widely apart.
然而，中国自称对保护大熊猫方面的进展没那么乐观。在发给美联社(The Associated Press)的一份声明中，中国国家林业局对IUCN的决定表示了质疑，称大熊猫很难在野外繁殖，并且以小群体的形式活动，群体之间相隔甚远。
“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,” the forestry administration told the A.P. “Therefore, we’re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species’ endangered status.”
The eastern gorilla has been a lot less lucky. The group changed the status of the species, one of the six great apes, from endangered to critically endangered after what it called “a devastating population decline” of more than 70 percent in the last 20 years.
The species lives in the mountains and jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, northwest Rwanda and southwest Uganda, and the group said long-term conflict in that part of Africa was responsible for the sharp decline in the gorilla’s numbers. The spread of firearms and militants in the wider region has also lead to an uptick in poaching and made it dangerous for conservation groups to access the area.
The eastern gorilla is composed of two subspecies whose combined population is now estimated to be fewer than 5,000, the group said.
One subspecies has fared better than the other. The estimated population of Grauer’s gorilla has declined by 77 percent since 1994, from 16,900 individuals to just 3,800 in 2015. The second subspecies, the mountain gorilla, has actually added to its numbers in recent years, the group said, but its population is still only estimated to be 880.
“To see the Eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide toward extinction is truly distressing,” Inger Andersen, the Director General of the I.U.C.N. said in a statement. “Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.”