Use our newly updated video study guide to learn more about China’s favorite threatened species, and consult our handy downloadable chart to learn the difference between ‘vulnerable’ and ‘endangered’.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit, including today’s chart and maps.
- Giant pandas are no longer an endangered species! Does this mean pandas are no longer at risk of extinction?
- The IUCN criteria used to assess the status of a species includes five key factors. What are they? Use our chart for some help, and our encyclopedia for a fuller explanation.
- Population reduction rate. This describes the rate at which the numbers of a specific species in a specific location is shrinking.
- Geographic range. This is broken into two factors: extent of occurrence and area of occupancy.
- extent of occurrence. An extent of occurrence is the smallest area that could contain all sites of a species’ population. If all members of a species could survive in a single area, the size of that area is the species’ extent of occurrence.
- area of occupancy. An area of occupancy is where a specific population of that species resides. This area is often a breeding or nesting site in a species range.
- Population size. This describes the actual number of mature individuals of a species.
- Population restriction. This calculation evaluates a species’ population size and its area of occupancy.
- Probability of extinction in the wild. Biologists, anthropologists, meteorologists, and other scientists have developed complex ways to determine a species’ probability of extinction. These formulas calculate the chances a species can survive, without human protection, in the wild.
- How did China increase the panda population enough to get it from endangered to vulnerable?
- “Success for the giant panda, endangered since 1990, is thanks to two factors: A marked decrease in poaching, which was rampant in the 1980s; and a huge expansion of the animal’s protected habitat,” including the establishment of 67 panda reserves.
- Why do some conservationists think the downgrade from endangered to vulnerable is premature?
- “Marc Brody, senior adviser for conservation and sustainable development at China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, says ‘it is too early to conclude that pandas are actually increasing in the wild—perhaps we are simply getting better at counting wild pandas.’”
- What threats do pandas continue to face? Consult these MapMaker Interactive layers on panda species range for some help.
- loss of habitat due to climate change. “Several models predict climate change will wipe out more than 30 percent of the panda’s bamboo habitat in the next 80 years.”
- loss of habitat due to human development. Marc Brody, from the Wolong Nature Reserve, says, “‘suitable’ or quality panda habitat is in fact decreasing from ongoing fragmentation from highway construction, active tourism development in Sichuan Province, and other human economic activities.”
IUCN Red List: Ailuropoda melanoleuca (Giant Panda)
Nat Geo: What is an endangered species?