Astonishing never-before-seen footage of a mother panda breastfeeding her cub in the wild have been captured in China.

The reclusive, almost painfully shy bears, were seen in the branches of a huge fir tree by a documentary team in Foping county in Shaanxi province.

At first the duo appear to be simply resting and enjoying themselves in their peaceful surrounding. But then the cub intimated that it was hungry.

That meant the mother had to lumber down the tree with the cub so it could suckle her while lying on a slope. According to Chinese state television, this is the first time such footage has been captured.

The amazing footage has spellbound both naturalists and the public. It was shot in the wilds of the Qinling mountains where a large group of giant pandas still roam without fear of man destroying their habitat.

A survey conducted two years ago estimated that there are close to 350 of them in the reserve.

Last week farmers near the spot where the mothering session occurred spotted a wild giant panda near a river looking to slake its thirst. They managed to capture it on smartphones.

Wild giant panda numbers are continuing to rise. A survey in 2014 found a total of 1,864 of them.

While still very low, this represents a real success story, with numbers increasing from around 1,000 in the late 1970s. In the past decade, giant panda numbers have risen by 17 percent.

Adult pandas can consume up to 85lbs of bamboo a day and can weigh up to 150 kilogrammes (330 lbs). Habitat loss and fragmentation of their communities are the major threats to them, but China is vigorous in its protection programmes.


Author: Gabriel Zamfir

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