Courtship and copulation of a pair of wild pandasOct 242020
The images were obtained during the filming of a documentary that explores the daily life of pandas in the mountains of central China.
After tracking a group of giant pandas ('Ailuropoda melanoleuca') through the mountainous region of Qinling, in China's Shaanxi province, a team of filmmakers managed to film a rarely documented event, the courtship and the moment when a couple of these animals copulate.
During the filming of the documentary 'Pandas: Born to be wild' ('Pandas: Born to be wild'), two Chinese filmmakers toured the Qingling mountain range to explore the daily life of these mammals in wildlife.
In the images, the filmmakers were able to record the fierce and intense courtship competition that two males held for a week, before the female was ready to mate.
According to the documentary makers, it was thanks to close collaboration with local rangers, as well as scientists, that the images of pandas mating could be captured.
According to the documentary filmmakers, the sounds that pandas make during the mating season, between late winter and early spring, "reverberate throughout the mountain," which helped them to follow their trail through the various paths and walking trails.
However, Jacky Poon, one of the filmmakers, said he was surprised by how well camouflaged pandas are in their natural habitat, as well as by the "tens of kilometers a day [they travel] in search of the right mate."
Scientists suspect that the stress experienced by the female panda during courtship could be related to the timing of her ovulation, so mating in captivity is rare.
The natural habitat of the giant panda is mainly distributed in the mountainous regions of central China, in the provinces of Sinchuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. Due to the reduction of its territory, and the consequent decrease in its population, the species came to be considered at risk of extinction. However, thanks to the increase in the number of specimens, it is currently considered as vulnerable.