Beijing, July 9: The status of the wild giant pandas in China has been downgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable" amid the country's efforts on biodiversity protection and ecological restoration, an official said.

Populations of several rare and endangered species have gradually recovered and the numbers of Siberian tigers, Asian elephants and crested ibises have grown rapidly, Ministry of Ecology and Environment official Cui Shuhong told a press conference.

Rare and endangered species such as the wild giant panda, Tibetan antelope and milu deer are living in better environments, Xinhua news agency reported. The giant panda has been removed from the list of endangered animals, with 1,800 of them now living in the wildness, he said. West Bengal: Female Red Panda Gives Birth to Two Cubs at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling (See Pics).

Cui attributed the improvement in the living conditions of China's wildlife to the country's drive in establishing a relatively complete system of nature reserves, which protects large areas of natural ecosystems systematically and completely.

By the end of 2019, China had 11,800 nature reserves, accounting for 18 per cent of the country's land area and meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets goal of protecting 17 per cent of terrestrial areas ahead of schedule, he said, adding that the country also set up botanical gardens and wildlife breeding bases and successfully bred a large number of rare and endangered species. Giant Panda Gives Birth to Twin Cubs at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo.

China's ecological conservation and restoration projects, such as forest and wetland protection initiatives and the fishing ban in the Yangtze River basin, have facilitated the recovery of rare and endangered species, he said.

Looking ahead, the country will build a comprehensive monitoring system for biodiversity conservation, enhance international cooperation and promote public participation, he added.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 09, 2021 06:06 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website