So China says. Watch National Geographic squirm:
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, citing a steadily increasing population and expanded habitat. But some Chinese scientists and officials rejected that assessment, saying it was premature and could undermine panda protection efforts.Kyle Obermann, “China declares pandas no longer endangered—but threats persist” at National Geographic (Hongh Kong, September 1, 2021)
= probably false
Yes, that dateline is Hong Kong, overrun during the COVID crazy. We hope this turns out okay for the pandas. But now that China decides, we are in very different territory. Bets are off.
More hopefully, Extinction (or maybe not): New Scientist offers five “Lazarus species.” But now facts will be off the table.