Endangered red panda spotted along Langtang trekking trailA few months ago, an anti-poaching patrol team from the Langtang National Park spotted five red pandas in the Polangpati area.
An endangered red panda (Ailurus fulgens) was recently spotted near Ghodatabela forest along the Langtang foot trail on Tuesday.
Suppa Lama, ward chairman at Langtang, said red pandas can be easily seen in the forests of Langtang National Park these days. “A team of six Koreans and 25 Nepalis became excited upon seeing the red panda. They also took photographs of the endangered species,” said Lama.
Dhindup Tamang, a hotel entrepreneur in Ghodatabela, said the timing could not have been more perfect for tourists to sight a red panda, with the Visit Nepal 2020 kicking off recently. “This could also boost economic and tourism activities,” said Tamang.
A few months ago, an anti-poaching patrol team from the Langtang National Park spotted five red pandas in the Polangpati area. According to the national park officials, Cholangpati, Gupche, Polangpati and Dhokachet Kharka in Gosainkunda Rural Municipality are the main habitats of red pandas.
Ramesh Basnet, a ranger of the national park, said the number of red pandas has increased in the park due to the effectiveness of conservation programmes. “The national park and forests have been developed as a safe habitat of the red panda,” said Basnet.
Although red pandas are being spotted in the national park areas during patrolling and survey, the exact number of red pandas in the park is unknown. “As the creatures are highly elusive and live in inaccessible areas, it is difficult to conduct red panda census,” said Basnet.
Red pandas are also found in Ghyangphedi of Nuwakot and various parts of Sindhupalchok district. Known as Habre in Nepali, red pandas live in temperate forests (2,800 to 3,600 meters of altitude) that have abundant bamboo in Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and southwestern China.
According to the World Wildlife Fund estimates, there are less than 10,000 red pandas left in the world. Unsustainable construction of roads through red panda habitat, deforestation, forest fires, poaching, excessive grazing, attack from the predators along with loss of major food are major challenges facing red panda conservation.Red panda is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and included in Appendix I of CITES. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 has also categorised red panda as a protected species of Nepal. The law states that a person convicted of trading red panda and their parts can be slapped with a jail term of one to 10 years and a fine up to Rs 500,000.