Chinese researchers plan to release two captive-bred giant pandas into the wild later this month under a programme to rebuild the population of the vulnerable species, state media reported today.
The China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in southwest Chinas Sichuan Province said the captive- bred pair received two years of training in Wolong to survive in the wild.
Ba Xi, the male panda, was born on July 26, 2015, while Ying Xue is just 14 days older to him.
Researchers at a meeting organised by the State
Forestry Bureau earlier this month had agreed that the pair was in good health and has developed the ability to live in the wild independently, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
They will be the second panda pair to be released into the wild.
In October last year, three-year-old Hua Yan and two- year-old Zhang Meng, bred in captivity, were released in the Liziping Nature Reserve in Sichuan.
Researchers have decided that the second pair will also be released in the Liziping Nature Reserve, it said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature reclassified the giant panda species as "vulnerable" rather than "endangered" last year.
According to the China giant panda breeding technology committee, the population of captive giant pandas has reached 520 worldwide.
However, the captive stock lacks genetic diversity.
China has planned to improve the wild panda population by creating giant panda national parks, releasing more pandas into the wild and furthering scientific research, the report said.