Kathmandu, January 19
The government has developed the Red Panda Conservation Action Plan (2019-2023) with the aim of protecting and managing the red panda population in Nepal through a holistic approach of conservation including research, monitoring, awareness building, habitat improvement and threat management.
Involvements of local communities have been well prioritised in this action plan in achieving the targeted objectives of the five-year action plan. Red panda, one of the elusive mammal, is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and included in Appendix I of CITES.
National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 has categorised red panda as a protected species of Nepal. Despite being a protected species, intensified anthropogenic activities such as livestock grazing, illegal trade, poaching and habitat loss and degradation are inducing threats for their long-term survival.
According to the action plan developed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation under the Ministry of Forests and Environment, red panda is usually poached for their furs and meat. During the nine-year period from 2008 to 2016, 74 cases of trafficking of red panda hides were reported in Nepal. However, the market where panda hides are in demand remains unknown.
“Although deliberate poaching of red panda is minimal in Nepal, red panda have been found trapped and killed, accidentally, in the traps set for other wildlife. Most of the highland herders in Nepal keep guard dogs in their cowsheds to provide security to livestock from predators. These dogs reportedly kill local wildlife, including red panda,” it sates. Besides, lack of awareness, unsustainable developmental activities, bamboo die-off, climate change and transfer of diseases from livestock and dogs are some other threats to red panda survival. Proper mitigation of these threats has been prioritised in the action plan.
In Nepal, red panda’s presence has been documented from 24 districts and seven protected areas. The DoNPWC and the Department of Forests and Soil Conservation will take an overall lead in implementing this action plan. They will coordinate with the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forests and Environment at the state level and their field offices along with other government and international agencies to secure the fund and strengthen cooperation. Red panda’s accurate population within the country is still lacking.
However, various studies show that its population stands at around 1,000. Based on this action plan, annual plans will be developed with specified roles of each conservation partners and monitoring and evaluation of the progress of this action plan will be carried out regularly.
A mid-term and final review of the action plan implementation progress will also be conducted by involving a team of independent consultants.
A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.