The latest survey by China’s State Forestry Administration shows that wild giant pandas are making a comeback in the country.
The census shows the population of the panda has grown by 268 to a total of 1,864 since the last survey in 2003. Nearly three quarters of the Chinese panda population lives in the province of Sichuan. Others live in Shaanxi and Gansu, which neighbors Sichuan.
"The rise in the population of wild giant pandas is a victory for conservation and definitely one to celebrate," said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for World Wildlife Fund.
Hemley credited efforts by the Chinese government for the increase. The survey shows 1,246 wild giant pandas live within nature reserves. There are 67 panda reserves in China, an increase of 27 since the last survey.
"The survey result demonstrates the effectiveness of nature reserves in boosting wild giant panda numbers," said Xiaohai Liu, executive program director for WWF-China.
The survey also points to economic development as a main threat to future growth of the panda’s population. It says 319 hydropower stations and 832 miles of roads have been built in its natural habitat.
The census began in 2011 and took three years to complete. China began surveying the animal in the 1970s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report