It was a black day for conservation when scientists discovered the body of five-year-old Xiang Xiang in the snow in a remote part of the Wolong nature reserve. The world's only captive-raised giant panda living in the wild, he had got on the wrong side of jealous males and fallen from a tree after a fight. He had broken ribs and internal injuries. "We chose Xiang Xiang because we thought a strong male panda would have a better chance of surviving, but the other pandas clearly saw Xiang Xiang as a threat. Next time we will choose a female," Li Desheng, deputy director of the Wolong centre, told the Xinhua news agency. Thedeath is a major setback for efforts to conserve the endangered species by releasing captive-bred pandas. Xiang Xiang was raised with no fighting experience. It is believed he got into a fight with wild males over food, or for encroaching on their territory. He was released at the Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant Pandas in April 2006. In December he was found with bites on his back, shoulders and sides, and was taken for treatment. He was sent back a week later. The programme to train captive-bred pandas to live in the wild began in 2003. Senior vets at the centre are considering giving the pandas training in self-defence. China's State Forestry Administration estimates there are 1,590 pandas in the wild - mainly in the mountains of Sichuan - and 210 in captivity.


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