China has launched its once-a-decade panda census, trying to determine how many of the endangered animals live in the wild amid efforts to boost numbers.
The census – the fourth since it was first launched in the 1970s – is also expected to ascertain pandas' living conditions, ages and any change in habitat.
According to the count a decade ago there are 1,596 pandas left in the wild in China, with 1,206 of them living in Sichuan.
It is notoriously difficult to get pandas to breed in captivity, with only 300 born in those circumstances by December 2010 since attempts began in 1963. But that work has become gradually more effective over the years.
The most successful research base for this effort is the Giant Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu, in south-west China's Sichuan province, where 12 panda cubs – pictured left, taking a group nap – have been born this year.
Some 108 of the animals live at the centre.Reuse content