The latest census in 2014 of the total number of giant pandas in the wild is 1684. There is an accurate number for 2019 since no update’s announced since then. After 39 years of steadily slow growth, giant pandas are no longer endangered and the status was changed to “vulnerable”. The current population of the giant panda number is a big increase from the 1000 wild giant pandas counted in the late 1970s.
Methods of counting the number of giant pandas in the wild
The methodology of the giant panda population census has changed several times over the past years. In the 1970s, the counting was conducted by about 3000 people wandering in panda habitat looking for animal signs. In the 1980s, the survey team changed to a group of 35 people. In the 1990s to 2000s, the bite-size method is used to do the count. The focus is panda poo, by analyzing the average length of bamboo fragments in panda droppings to estimate the number of pandas. After that, DNA in panda poop is used to more accurately count the number of giant pandas.
This bite-size method (poop analysis) is not very accurate and unreliable sometimes because similar bite sizes of pandas appear in the same living area. The DNA method is expensive, requires fresh samples, and precision laboratory equipment. Therefore, nowadays scientists have combined the methods of DNA analysis, poop method and footprints to make the number estimate.
Number of giant pandas on a yearly basis
In the past decade, giant panda numbers have risen by 17 percent. This is an achievement from great efforts by scientists and environmentalists worldwide. But the future of giant pandas still requires continuous and close attention by us.