CHENGDU, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- China plans to release one giant panda into the wild from a national nature reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province at the end of the year.
This will be the first time for the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas to release a captive-bred giant panda into the wild in the provincial capital of Chengdu.
The panda, two years and four months old, will be released into the Longxi-Hongkou National Nature Reserve, a habitat for wild pandas, in the county-level city of Dujiangyan, the center said Friday.
The number of wild pandas living in the reserve is small, posing a risk to reproduction there, said Zhang Zhizhong, director of the center.
The panda, named "Qinxin", has received systematic wild training and gained relatively strong survival skills for the wild, Zhang said.
The release is key in boosting the wild population of the giant panda, said Zhang.
By the end of 2017, China had trained 25 captive-bred giant pandas to adapt to the wild and released nine of them. Seven survived.
The number of captive pandas is currently at 548 worldwide, said China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration Thursday. A healthy, dynamic and sustainable giant panda population has basically been formed, laying a solid foundation for preserving a wild population.
The administration plans to continue the captive breeding of giant pandas and releasing them back into the wild this year. The number of released captive pandas will reach 10 since the program was launched in 2003.
Giant pandas are endangered and live mainly in the mountains of northern Sichuan Province as well as Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.