Khotang locals step in to conserve red panda

KHOTANG, August 7

Locals of northern Khotang have been making efforts for the conservation of red panda, as illegal trading and poaching of the endangered species have soared in the district.

According to Chairman of Phedi-based Chilim Lahure Community Forest Arun Rai, as part of the conservation drive, the locals have hung hoarding boards with the posters of red panda at several places, they patrol the forest taking turns and hold interactions about the importance of red panda.

Population of the animal in the area is said to be around 100 and it is found only in the high reaches, said the locals.

According to them, red panda is found in Bagale, Chilim Lahure, Phungalung, Chhimalung, Chiuridanda Gopini, and Kopchebhalukhop Community forests and their adjoining areas. Basically, the rare species is found in the areas where there are Malingo trees, said Gyan Kumar Rai, a local.

Birkaji Rai, Nepali Congress district leader, said the government had taken no initiative for the conservation of the rare species, taking into account the potential of tourism and their population count in the district. Mohan Acharya, Khotang’s Acting Chief of District Forest Office, admitted that the government had planned no campaign or programme for the conservation of the animal. “We have heard that red pandas are found in the district forests, however, no one is sure about it, as there is no record of the animal’s population,” he said.

Local Development Officer Mahendra Kumar Sapkota said they didn’t have any policy level conservation programmes for red panda, adding, “We need to table policy level strategies.”