It was October 2012 when 'Tao Tao' was released into the wild after successfully completing his field system training in Wolong. He has done very well since his release. See his photo to the left.
We are a year later and the scientist are ready to release another young panda into the wild. This time it is a female.
They have documented the preparations for the cubs release on the IPanda blog so be sure to check them out.
The videos are in Chinese only, so unless you know the language we are out of luck. The team did a great job of covering all of the aspects of the program. They interview many of the staff and Professor Zhang Hemin (Chief of the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration) who's information would be priceless to hear as they describe their experiences and to learn more about the field system training program.
"China’s Giant Panda Research Centre’s panda Zhang Xiang has been training at the Wolong Hetaoping Base for 26 months. Currently, she has completed the second phase of survival training and will be released into the Sichuan Liziping Nature Reserve on November 6th, 2013." Source: IPanda
Here they are showing the control room where the staff monitor the pandas through cameras that they have set up inside the training area. They also show the chart where each zone is mapped out on the mountainside where the training takes place, so they can keep track of the mother and cubs during the training.
It varies as to how many mother and cubs are brought to the training center each year dependent on breeding success. All of the breeding takes place at the Ya'an Bifengxia base. They are very selective as to which pregnant mothers they will move to Wolong, as they are trying to utilize those pandas whose genes are best for wild introduction.
The training areas are closed off with fencing to help protect the pandas from predators and to keep them within an area so they can be monitored. The first stage of the training is in a area of 40,000 sq meters and if the cub adapts well, then the mother and cub are moved up to the second phase where this video is shot. This area encompasses 240,000 sq meters. There is a small cabin at the top where they have additional cameras to keep track of the mother and cub in phase 2.In this video, they find the mother and cub and lead them to the edge of the enclosure and bring them down from the mountain. It is a long video, but very interesting. This job takes alot of patience.
Here is a photo of the proud staff that help to make this program a success. Congratulations to each one one of you for all of the hard work you put into this program.