Conservationists urge residents to help in red panda protectionStakeholders demand the government do more to protect the endangered animal from poachers and smugglers.
Conservationists working towards the preservation of red panda, known as Habre in Nepali, have sought the support of local residents in the eastern and northern hills of Rolpa to protect the endangered animal species.
Stakeholders demand the government to do more to conserve the endangered animals and protect them from poachers and smugglers.
At a recent programme on Red Panda Conservation in Libang, Chairman of Sunchahari Rural Municipality-1 Mahavir Rana Magar said there has been an increase in smuggler activities in the region and urged local residents to be involved in protecting red pandas.
“Three men from Rolpa were arrested with five red panda hides from Bhaluwang Bazaar of Dang on February 25,” said Magar. “The smugglers have been killing red pandas and selling their hides so we seek the locals’ involvement in helping us in the conservation efforts.”
“The locals can help in the conservation efforts by planting Himalayan bamboo, the staple food of red pandas, and maintaining natural water sources in the forest,” said Magar. “They can also inform the authorities if they come across suspicious activities of smugglers and poachers.”
According to Chief District Officer Nawaraj Sapkota, smugglers have been arrested with red panda hides in Dang, Nepalgunj and other market areas in recent times.
“All these red pandas were killed or stolen from Rolpa,” he said.
To raise awareness about the important role locals can play to alert authorities of illegal activities concerning red pandas, the Red Panda Conservation Programme is being implemented at five local units in the upper region of the district in coordination with the local government.
The programme has been underway since the past year in Rolpa Municipality, Thabang Municipality, Sunchahari Municipality, Gangadev Municipality and Parivartan Rural Municipalities. The Red Panda Conservation Project is also being implemented in Dolpa, Rukum East and Rukum West with the support of Red Panda Network and other organisations.
Navin KC, coordinator of the project in Rolpa, said a search is being carried out to discover the habitat of red pandas in the district.
“We plan to conserve the red pandas by raising public awareness and involving the local community,” he said.
Man Bahadur Budha, 61, and his wife Lahari Budha, 52, of Sunchahari Rural Municipality found a pair of red pandas while they were collecting firewood in a nearby forest three years ago. The red pandas weighed 2kg each. The pair of red pandas are currently at the central zoo at Jawalakhel in Kathmandu.
“But these days, no red pandas are seen in the area,” said Chairman of Sunchahari Rural Municipality Aash Bahadur Pun.
Red pandas live in temperate forests with an abundance of bamboo in Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and southwestern China. They are categorised as a protected species of Nepal by the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973,
The estimated number of red pandas is less than 10,000 in the world, with around 1,000 of them found in Nepal.