Even though giant pandas are instantly recognizable as a species, their uniform black and white markings makes them rather anonymous to the human eye. That is why researchers in China thought that having a facial recognition app that can identify specific pandas was needed.
Researchers have also built a database with over 120,000 images and 10,000 video clips of giant pandas that together with the app would allow them to correctly identify individual animals. Chen Peng, a researcher at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas stated:
“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.”
The app is also available in southwest China, at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where visitors will be able to use it to identify the dozens of captive giant pandas in order to find our more information about them.
According to a 2014 census, the Chinese government found that there are fewer than 2,000 giant pandas left in the wild. Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate which is a key factor in their status as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species, the other one being habitat loss.
That is why China announced last year that it plans to build a 10,476-square-mile Giant Panda National Park in mountainous southwestern China for giant pandas to link up and encourage breeding among existing wild populations. The panda reserve they want to create is aimed to be three times the size of the Yellowstone National Park and at least 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) have been budgeted for its construction.