At least 218 red pandas found in eastern Nepal

PHIDIM: Recent statistics show that at least 218 red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) live in their natural habitat in Mechi zone of eastern Nepal.

The Red Panda Network and its associates, including Deep Jyoti Youth Club of Panchthar and the Mountain Institute Nepal, informed that 134 pandas are in Taplejung district alone.

Likewise, there are 43 pandas in Panchthar and 40 in Ilam districts.

Issuing a press statement on the eve of the Red Panda Day, the organisations involved in conservation of this rare species said they are marking the day with the slogan “Celebrating Red Panda, the Real Panda” on Saturday.

According to Sunil Bantawa, the executive chief of Deep Jyoti Youth Club, various functions including quiz contests, essay writing competitions and speech contests among schools of the conservation area in the districts.

The organisations have expressed their concerns regarding the challenges in protecting the endangered animal.

They highlighted that stray dog attack on pandas, traditional ways of farming, motor roads, illegal encroachment, deforestation, dependence on nigalo (Himalayan bamboo: Arundinaria falcata) for cattle, traps and wildfire have caused threats to red pandas in the region.

Since 2011, the third Saturday of September is marked as the Red Panda Day every year to raise voices for conservation of red pandas in Nepal, informed Tashi Lama, programme coordinator of the Network.