Parasitic infections threaten red pandaParasitic infections found in red panda—the shy and charismatic endangered mammal species—could be a major cause of its health, a recent study shows.
The study conducted by the Red Panda Network and the Global Primate Network in a community forest at Gram VDC in Rolpa district suggests the protozoa infections were the most common and cestode infections occurred the least on red panda.
A team of conservationists including Sonam Tashi Lama, Rinzin Phunjok Lama, Gangaram Regmi and Tirtharaj Ghimire studied the health of the animal at Kothevir Community Forest for a month.
In an investigation report they published in the Journal of Threatened Texa, the conservationists said Angiostrongylus, Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium parasites were recovered in the species. The red panda itself can be infected with Angiostrongylus when it eats snail while taking food and water. The parasite infects the lungs of the animal and can cause its death, said the report. The snails, slugs or frogs are the intermediate hosts of this parasite.
The study team collected 23 faecal samples of the red panda from the community forest. The examinations were conducted in the laboratory of the Advanced Community Hospital in Chitwan. Faecal samples were examined by direct light microscopy. All the samples were found to be positive for gastrointestinal parasites.
Sonam said that the parasites found in the animal could threaten the health of the endangered species.
Nearly a dozen red pandas were found dead in Taplejung, Panchthar and other eastern districts of Nepal last year. The conservationists involved in the study said parasitic infection was the possible cause of the deaths. Red pandas are found in the subtropical and temperate forests of Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and southwestern China. An estimated 1,000 red pandas are found in Nepal.