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Facial recognition software is being used for panda conservation in China

Facial recognition software is now being used to help conservationists identify wild pandas in China. Tracking and monitoring these critically endangered animals can be challenging because of the extremely similar markings and faces that many pandas have.

To remedy this problem, researchers from the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas started a facial recognition project in 2017, according to Xinhua News.

Now, the Research Center has a database of 120,000 photos and 10,000 video clips. So far, 10,000 of the images have been annotated, analyzed, sorted and categorized.

By filtering through thousands of panda images, the software will be able to cross-reference the database and identify a specific panda.

The goal of the facial recognition project is to have a better way to collect data, track specific pandas, and monitor both wild and captive panda populations.

“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 who is working on the project told Xinhua News. “It will definitely help us improve efficiency and effectiveness in conservation and management of the animals.”

To see the software in action, visitors to the Conservation and Research Center can download the app, scan a panda’s face, and learn more information about the animals currently in captivity there.

Pandas are one of the species most vulnerable to climate change. Like the polar bear, it’s continued existence is reliant on its preferred habitat and food sources.

Bamboo makes up the majority of a panda’s diet, but habitat degradation due to climate change, deforestation, and urban sprawl are all threatening bamboo stocks.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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