Conserving Red Pandas,  Nepal

The Red Panda is an indicator of healthy subalpine forests. The Kanchenjunga Singhalila Complex (KSC) in Eastern Nepal and the Panchthar-llam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor support 25% of the red panda population of Nepal. However the PIT corridor is not protected and there is pressure from livestock grazing, exploitation of fuel wood collection and encroachment by locals which has led to the degradation and fragmentation of the habitat, resulting in the isolation of panda populations.

These threats will be addressed by assessing the quality of the red panda habitat, developing a management plan for the area and training Community Forest User Groups in forest fire management. 250 households will be supported in red panda conservation, including red panda monitoring, organic farming methods, training of 10 nature guides and 20 households in tourism provision and promoting stall feeding of cattle. Finally, 3500 locals will be educated on the values of conserving broad leaf forests through promotional material, a media campaign, events and a school outreach campaign.

The Update

A red panda status survey helped identify 48km2 of potential red panda habitat as well as threats to the area including timber and bamboo harvest, illegal logging, human encroachment, forest fire and livestock grazing.  In total, 18,000 trees were planted to enrich habitat. Eight local forest users have been identified and trained in red panda monitoring techniques and data relating to red panda abundance, habitat quality, disturbances and threats is being collected.  Plans have been drawn up to combat some of the threats, including agreeing family quotas on bamboo and timber and supplying improved cooking stoves and bio-briquettes to reduce fuel wood consumption.

148 local people have received training in organic farming techniques to make them less dependent on the forest, 29 participants undertook home stay training for eco tourism and 15 nature guides have been trained to run sustainable tourism trips in the forests to see red pandas.

Schools have received educational materials and teachers have been trained in developing a curriculum related to red pandas and the importance of their habitat.

Image: Red Panda Habitat, Eastern Nepal