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Panda Updates- Monday, March 14

You probably know that the United States takes a census of its people every 10 years, but did you know that China takes a census of its giant pandas every 10 years? The National Survey has been occurring approximately every 10 years in China since the 1970s. Its purpose is to survey natural habitat areas to make the best estimation possible of the giant panda population at that time. Between the first and second surveys, the giant panda population was estimated to have been cut in half! That awful news spurred people to action. The poaching of giant pandas was banned, and China began the process of creating a system of natural reserves. The count from the third survey showed that their efforts were working – the population was increasing! In the fourth and most recent National Survey conducted between 2011 and 2014, over 2,000 people searched 4.36 million hectares for signs that giant pandas had been living there. That survey produced good news –  the giant panda population continued to increase from past counts!  

Thanks to this data, the IUCN reclassified giant pandas as Vulnerable instead of Endangered! Conservation action is important, but it’s even more important to be sure that the actions we take are working. The data gathered in the National Surveys allow us to be confident that we are on the right track. 


Swaisgood, R., Wang, D. & Wei, F. 2016. Ailuropoda melanoleuca (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T712A121745669. Accessed on 13 March 2022. 

Michelle E.
Keeper III, Mammals

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