Pandas: China's conservation efforts continuing

Conservationists are optimistic about the panda population Credit: China Central Television

Conservationists in China say they have successfully raised more than 400 giant pandas in captivity, as the population continues to shows signs of stabilisation.

China's captive-bred panda population has reached 422, helping to stem a decades-long decline in the number of the endangered species.

This has been described as a critical breakthrough, with plans to start work on improving the genetic quality of the animal.

"In theory, a species should have a minimal population size of 300 to be able to preserve its genetic diversity up to more than 90% for 100 years", said Zhang Heming, director of the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda.

"But the concept of this minimal population of 300 is that the animals are staying together.

"Yet the captive-bred pandas around the world are not raised in a single location. Instead, they are scattered in many different places".

Currently, about 60% of captive-bred pandas are based at Wolong.

Mr Zhang added: "Therefore, our team of experts believe that our panda population size should reach 500".

60% of captive-bred Pandas are based at Wolong Credit: China Central Television

Mr Zhang and his colleagues are now seeking ways to avoid inbreeding among the pandas and improve the genetic quality of the species in captivity.