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Giant panda population is on the rise , but China still faces huge challenges

The giant panda, native to the disappearing bamboo forests of southwestern China, was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the IUCN

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Giant panda
A Giant panda in China. Wikimedia
  • The Chinese native Giant panda was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The move came as the IUCN reported a 17 percent rise in the panda population in the decade up to 2014 when 1,864 giant pandas were found in the wild in China
  • While highly focussing on the giant panda, China is being unable to manage tiger protection
  • The government rents out pandas to overseas zoos in a gesture seen as a seal of diplomatic approval, but which is also highly lucrative for the ruling Chinese Communist Party

Oct 04, 2016: Now that China’s iconic national treasure, the giant panda, has been taken off the list of endangered species, the government’s wildlife protection strategy would benefit from a change in focus, campaigners have told RFA.

The giant panda, native to the disappearing bamboo forests of southwestern China, was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in a development that was largely welcomed by campaign groups.

The move came as the IUCN reported a 17 percent rise in the panda population in the decade up to 2014 when 1,864 giant pandas were found in the wild in China.

But even the Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF), which uses the panda as its logo, said the news should spur governments to further efforts to save rapidly shrinking populations of wildlife.

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“The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity,” WWF chief Marco Lambertini said in a statement on the group’s website.

But he warned: “While the panda’s status has improved, other species are under increasing threat, including the Eastern gorilla, which is now listed as critically endangered primarily due to poaching.”

The Chinese government, in particular has focused on the giant panda, while neglecting other endangered species, according to Grace Ge Gabriel, regional director for China at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Giant panda
A group of Giant pandas. Representational image. Wikimedia

“The Chinese government has actually poured a vast amount of money, manpower and effort into the protection of pandas and their breeding in captivity, because it views the giant panda as a national treasure,” Ge Gabriel told RFA in a recent interview.

Falling short on tiger protection

She said the tiger population, which became extinct in south China early this century, would have been a more valuable species to focus on.

“The Chinese government has actually poured a vast amount of money, manpower and effort into the protection of pandas and their breeding in captivity, because it views the giant panda as a national treasure,” she said.

“In reality, the true value of a giant panda lies in its influence on its natural habitat, and in that respect, tigers are actually more important than pandas,” Ge Gabriel said.

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“Tigers are a species that China and Asia should be really proud of, but the Chinese government has fallen far short so far when it comes to the protection of tigers.”

But she said the government shouldn’t cut its panda program as a result of its removal from the Red List of endangered species.

“I don’t think this means that there should be reduced protection for pandas or their habitat in future,” Ge Gabriel said.

“There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that those pandas bred in captivity are about to return to the wild.”

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China has around 420 pandas in captivity, with more than 200 births at its research center in Chengdu.

The government rents out pandas to overseas zoos in a gesture seen as a seal of diplomatic approval, but which is also highly lucrative for the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Before they can be released, the animals must be trained to recognize predators and socialize with their peers, a process fraught with difficulty as researchers say they still don’t fully understand the species.

Fewer than 10 pandas have been released to the wild in the past 10 years. (BBG)

  • Antara

    Vulnerable or endangered, protection of such animals are immensely important for the sake of maintaining the balance in Nature!

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)