02:20 GMT19 January 2021
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    The mating season for wild pandas is between March and May but it was not previously realised the ritual involved kissing. Now footage has emerged from a nature reserve in north-west China.

    Two giant pandas have been caught on camera kissing deep in the woods of the Baishuijiang National Nature Reserve in China’s Gansu province.

    Conservation experts used infra-red cameras to capture the extraordinary images of the wild pandas kissing during a midnight tryst.

    The three-second video, which was taken in May last year, shows the pandas gazing into each other's eyes before one leans over and kisses his mate.

    ​He Liwen, director of the reserve’s giant panda administration, said: "It is difficult to tell their sexes from mere pictures, but we believe the pair is a couple, as pandas are usually solitary creatures.”

    He said both were adult pandas so it was not a kiss from a mother to a cub.

    "In recent years, with the steady progress of conservation, the ecological environment of the reserve has been improving, and giant pandas have been increasingly photographed in the wild," Mr He told the Xinhua news agency.

    The fourth national giant panda census, in 2015, showed Gansu had 132 wild giant pandas, of which 110 lived in the Baishuijiang reserve.

    The reserve has 200 infra-red cameras set up in remote spots to capture wild animal behaviour without human interaction.

    In October 2019, they set up a dynamic spatial data monitoring system and staff can now observe real-time images of the animals in the reserve, which also include golden snub-nosed monkeys and takins.

    In 2017, China established a Giant Panda pilot national park, which covers parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces after the bears became an endangered species.

     

     

     

    Tags:
    infrared, Gansu, giant pandas, China
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