A national icon in China, and a universal symbol of conservation, the giant panda is undoubtedly one of the world’s most adorable and lovable creatures.
After decades of being at risk of extinction, life is finally getting better for pandas! Over the past decade, the giant panda population has grown by about 17%, changing their status from endangered to vulnerable. The number of pandas in the wild has risen to an estimated 1,864 from its low point of around 1,000 in the 1980s.
China is building a new National Giant Panda Conservation Park! It will be over 27,000 square kilometers large–bigger than the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen combined!
By comparison, the Chengdu Panda Base, world-famous for its panda breeding and research, spans about one square kilometer of land.
Unlike the Chengdu Base, which is popular among tourists eager to visit the cute pandas, the new park will not allow panda interaction, as it is a park for wild pandas rather than captive ones.
The park will cover undeveloped regions of Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces, and seeks to connect pandas living in 30 different isolated areas. Together, these three provinces are home to all of the wild pandas in the world.
Map of projected panda park area
China’s new panda park is planned to be developed over the next five years, and will hopefully bring the country closer to its goal of reaching 2,000 wild pandas by 2025.
Newer strategies such as ecotourism have focused on uniting conservation with economic development, helping to reduce poverty in the rural communities near panda habitat, fund conservation efforts, and educate visitors on the importance of environmental protection.
Although the giant panda still has a vulnerable conservation status, the future of pandas is looking brighter.