Red panda numbers on rise in KarnaliNumbers of red panda (Ailurus fulgens), endangered mammal species, are increasing due to safer habitats in hill districts of Karnali, conservationists say.
LP Devkota & Raj Bahadur Shahi
Numbers of red panda (Ailurus fulgens), endangered mammal species, are increasing due to safer habitats in hill districts of Karnali, conservationists say.
According to a recent study conducted by the Red Panda Network in Jumla, many red pandas were spotted in the forests of Tatopani, Sinja, Hima, Kanakasundari and Patarasi Rural Municipality, and Chandannath Municipality.
Saroj Shrestha, a representative of the network, said that 44 percent of red panda’s habitat falls in the hill districts of Karnali. “Our observations have shown an increase in the number of red pandas in the forests. We had found a red panda in Khalanga, the district headquarters of Jumla, six years ago,” he said, adding that the network will now work towards documenting the exact count of red pandas in the forests.
Conservationists said they have also found red panda in Rara. Lal Bahadur Bhandari, officer at the Rara National Park, said that the national park has been developed as one of the suitable habitats for red pandas. “Though we haven’t carried out a census yet, we are positive that there has been an increase in the red panda population in the park,” said Bhandari. Studies have shown that red pandas are found in Chhamurmatap, Chuchumare, Rumkhola, Majhghatta and Khamalekhola areas of the park. Purusottam Jaisi, a conservation officer with Hatemalo Nepal, said that red pandas are at risk because of poaching.
“Poaching is a major danger facing red pandas. All stakeholders should collaborate to put a stop to this menace,” said Jaisi, informing that deforestation and excessive grazing also contribute to poor habitat for red pandas.
Known as Habre in Nepali, red panda is one of the rare animal species inhabiting the temperate forests with abundance of bamboo, in Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and south-western China. The estimated number of red panda is less than 10,000 in the world and around 1,000 in Nepal. According to the Red Panda Network, red pandas are found in 23 districts in the country.
The conservationists say that construction of roads through red panda habitats, deforestation, forest fires, poaching, excessive grazing, attack from predators, along with loss of major food sources, are among the challenges facing the red panda conservation. Parasitic infections found in red pandas are also a major cause for concern, a recent study showed.