Two young female pandas complete ‘survival training’ ahead of release into the wild

China has been setting free pandas raised in captivity since 2006 – with mixed results – to help boost wild population

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 October, 2017, 3:51pm

Two young giant pandas at a conservation centre in southwest China will be released into the wild early next month, official media reports.

The China Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda in Yaan city in Sichuan province said the two female pandas – three-year-old Huayan and two-year-old Zhangmeng – had completed their two-year wilderness training programme at a facility in Wolong where they acquired the necessary survival skills for the wild, according to the China News Service.

They will be released into the Liziping Nature Reserve in Shimian county early next month, the report said.

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The two pandas have lived with their mothers at the wilderness training base since they were born and are in good health.

Their training, which was divided into two phases, included learning to feed themselves in the wild, finding water independently, finding natural shelter and staying vigilant, being able to identify natural enemies and other pandas, and generally being able to avoid danger.

China has been releasing captive-bred pandas into the wild since 2006, when the first panda, a five-year-old male named Xiang Xiang, was released into the Wolong National Nature Reserve in the mountainous north of the province, Xinhua reported.

Xiang Xiang died about a year after his release after being seriously injured fighting with other pandas over food and territory, Xinhua said.

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Three more pandas were released into Liziping nature Reserve in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The last of the three died the same year of its release.

A fifth panda, two-year-old female Hua Jiao, was released in November at Liziping.

Fewer than 2,000 pandas live in the wild, mostly in Sichuan and Shaanxi province.