The animal on the World Wildlife Fund's logo now represents a rare and very welcome environmental success story. The group says the giant panda has been bumped down a notch in the Red List of Threatened Species and is now classed as "vulnerable" instead of "endangered," with 1,864 of them believed to be in the wild as of 2014, up 17% from a decade earlier. "Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats,” says WWF Director General Marco Lambertini, praising the panda's recovery as an example of what can happen when "science, political will, and engagement of local communities come together."
But while there is hope for the panda the news from elsewhere isn't so bright, with the eastern lowland gorilla moving from endangered to critically endangered because of poaching and civil war in the eastern Congo, CNN reports. The Grauer's gorilla subspecies has declined from 1994 16,900 individuals to only around 3,800 today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature warns. Still, the WWF hopes the panda success story, which it says involved work with local communities to develop sustainable livelihoods and the creation of protected forest reserves connected by corridors, will serve as an inspiration to conservation efforts elsewhere. (California's island foxes have made an amazing comeback.)