The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) first listed Pandas as endangered in 1990. Unsurprisingly, the biggest threat to their population was (and is) humans. According to the WWF, “A large proportion of the panda’s habitat has already been lost: logged for timber and fuel wood, or cleared for agriculture and infrastructure to meet the needs of the area’s booming population.” Even after the Chinese government restricted logging in the late 1990s, road and railway construction continued to segment Panda habitats.
But just this year, China declared that panda bears are no longer endangered. This is good news, right?
In large part, yes. According to BBC, the country made this announcement after the number of wild pandas increased to 1,800. The increase in the panda population largely resulted from conservation efforts to recreate and repopulate bamboo forests. But with Pandas no longer listed as endangered, humans will likely return to old practices, pillaging the ecosystems that are only beginning to re-emerge. That is why in 2016, when the IUCN upgraded the species to “vulnerable,” Chinese officials opposed the relabeling.
As the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once wrote about voting rights protections, it makes little sense to throw “away an umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Putting the quote into context, it makes little sense to reduce Panda Bear protections now that these protections are showing signs of actually helping the beloved species. And importantly, if humans stop protecting Panda habitats, it isn’t just Pandas that will suffer; restoring Panda habitats also helps the “less adorable” species that humans are less inclined to notice.
Sign this petition asking the Chinese government to continue protecting panda bears.
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