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China creates facial recognition app to tell pandas apart

China creates facial recognition app to tell pandas apart
China has developed an app to track giant pandas using facial recognition software as a way to help conservationists tell the large, lumbering animals apart.

Researchers also built a database with over 120,000 images and 10,000 video clips of giant pandas so they can be identified. Almost 10,000 panda images have been analyzed and annotated since the research began in 2017.

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"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.

The app was created by the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas along with researchers in Singapore Nanyang Technological university and Sichuan Normal University.

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China plans to build a Giant Panda National Park to encourage breeding among existing wild populations. The $1.6 billion reserve in the southwest of the country will be three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the US.

Giant pandas are slow to reproduce, which has led to their status as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, along with habitat loss. There are fewer than 2,000 living in the wild, with 548 in captivity globally.

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