HONOLULU, Hi (CBS/AP) — The giant panda, which was previously on the endangered list, is now listed as “vulnerable” after conservation efforts helped protect its habitat.
“For over 50 years, the giant panda has been the globe’s most beloved conservation icon,” says Marco Lambertini, director general of the environmental group World Wildlife Fund.
“Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife.”
The announcement was made Sunday in a report released at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.
But while pandas received good news, that was not the case for another at-risk species.
The eastern gorilla, the world’s largest living primate, has been listed as critically endangered.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, cited illegal hunting in downgrading the status of the eastern gorilla on its Red List of Endangered Species. The list contains more than 80,000 species, and almost 24,000 of those are threatened with extinction.
“To see the eastern gorilla — one of our closest cousins — slide toward extinction is truly distressing,” Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, says 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.”
The organization said an estimated 5,000 eastern gorillas remain in the wild, a decline of about 70 percent over the past 20 years.