INFRA-RED cameras in China have snapped images of a white panda in the wild, the first ever captured on film. Researchers now believe that the bear is an albino, something almost unknown among the elusive creatures as both parents need to carry the rare gene to pass on the condition. The panda was filmed in the huge Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province and shows the bear walking through the forest. The sex cannot be determined but they have seen enough to put it as young, between one and two years old, and healthy, something judged by its size and gait.
The unmanned cameras have been installed in areas likely to capture images in the Wolong Park, much of which has been created to help the animals begin to thrive again in the wild. Scientists do not believe that albinism has any detrimental health effects on the cub and is an extreme example of the “whitening” that is happening to the population caused by a rogue gene that has become more prevalent due to the small amount of pandas. There are only about 1,800 wild pandas left in the world and about a third that many in captivity.