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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Satellites to monitor panda sex
giant pandas (file picture)
Persuading pandas to breed can feel like hard work
Scientists in China plan to use satellites to track pandas to learn more about their sexual behaviour.

A Chinese-US project will use Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to monitor panda movements in a reserve in remote Shaanxi province.

It is part of an attempt to understand the panda's poor breeding record.

"Tracking them with advanced technology and observing their sex activities might help us find ways to avoid their extinction," an official said.

Wei Fuwen, from the China Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology, said pandas living in the wild were inaccessible for long periods of time.

"Traditional observation cannot unravel the ecological mystery of the animals," he told the official Xinhua news agency.

China's scientists have come up with a series of more or less surprising ideas for improving panda reproduction, including showing them sex education videos.

Despite such efforts, the animal remains endangered.

China last year said there were an estimated 1,600 of the creatures left in the wild, 40% more than previous figures suggested.

A further 161 pandas were reported to be living in captivity.

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