China creates app to recognize Pandas

Beijing (AFP) –


China has developed an app that allows conservationists to identify individual pandas using facial recognition technology, state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

Researchers have also built a database with over 120,000 images and 10,000 video clips of giant pandas that would allow them to correctly identify individual animals.

"The app and database will help us gather more precise and well-rounded data on the population, distribution, ages, gender ratio, birth and deaths of wild pandas, who live in deep mountains and are hard to track," Chen Peng, a researcher at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, told Xinhua.

China last year also announced plans to create a bastion for giant pandas three times the size of Yellowstone National Park to link up and encourage breeding among existing wild populations of the notoriously slow-reproducing animal, state media reported.

At least 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) had been budgeted for the Giant Panda National Park in mountainous southwestern China for the nation's favourite creature, China Daily reported.

Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate, a key factor -- along with habitat loss -- in their status as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

More than 80 percent of the world's wild pandas live in Sichuan, with the rest in Shaanxi and Gansu.

There were about 548 giant pandas in captivity globally as of November, Xinhua said.

The number living in the wild has dwindled to fewer than 2000.