(Photo: China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas)
China plans to release one or two giant pandas into the wild in a nature reserve in Jiangxi province, the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas said.
They will be the first giant pandas released into the wild outside Sichuan province, where 13 had been released by the end of last year.
The center said a meeting of experts held in Jiangxi recently decided that one or two pandas will be transported from Sichuan to Jiangxi and be released into the Jiangxi Guanshan National Nature Reserve.
The nature reserve has a mild climate and a relatively intact ecosystem, with abundant bamboo resources and little human interference, making it a good place for giant pandas and other wild animals to live and reproduce.
Researchers with the center told the experts about the training of three 2-year-old pandas－Panwang, Ranran and Yuner－for introduction to the wild. Panwang and Ranran are female, and Yuner is male.
They also briefed the experts on the research behind the giant panda reintroduction program and the nature reserve's environment.
The experts concluded at the meeting that the three pandas are ready for introduction to the wild, and the reserve meets the program's requirements.
The giant panda reintroduction program involves releasing captive-bred pandas into their historical distribution areas to live and reproduce after wild training so as to rebuild the species' wild population.
Researchers will be able to obtain important data on the giant pandas' adaptation to the environment and climate by observing them after they are released into the wild.
The program has high research value for studying the reasons why giant pandas died out in their historical distribution areas, and predicting climate change's influence on the current giant panda population, experts said.
The historical distribution areas of giant pandas include Southwest China's Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, East China's Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, and Central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces, said Huang Yan, an expert with the conservation and research center.
The program will also help expand the distribution range of giant pandas and reduce the extinction risks of the wild population.
The number of captive giant pandas around the world stood at 600 in November. There are fewer than 2,000 giant pandas living in the wild, mostly in Sichuan and Shaanxi province.