The giant panda, one of the symbols of China, is off the endangered list thanks to aggressive conservation efforts.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a report released on Sunday that the panda is now classified as “vulnerable” instead of “endangered”. This reflects the animal’s growing numbers in the wild in southern China.
The report said the wild panda population jumped to 1,864 in 2014 from 1,596 in 2004, the result of work by Chinese agencies to enforce poaching bans and expand forest reserves.
For decades, international groups and the Chinese government have worked to save wild pandas and breed them at enormous cost. This has attracted criticism that money could be better spent saving other animals facing extinction, but the black-and-white bear is a symbol of both China and the global conservation movement.