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The mountain forests located outside of protected areas in this region constitute more than half of the habitat available to red pandas in Nepal.
Here, red panda habitat has been fragmented into many small patches, which are unlikely to support a viable population if connectivity is not maintained. Therefore, protecting this region must be a priority to ensure the long-term survival of red pandas.
The community-based red panda conservation model we have developed in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor is now being implemented in seven districts in Western Nepal — Jumla, Jajarkot, Kalikot, Rolpa, Dolpa, Western Rukum and Eastern Rukum — which will ensure the connectivity of three protected areas: Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Shey Phoksundo National Park and Rara National Park.
RPN has undertaken environmental awareness campaigns, outreach activities and workshops in each one to increase the public’s understanding of the plight of red pandas and the need for conservation in the region.
Prior to RPN’s arrival, the districts lacked any conservation programs, and the people didn’t have much education about red pandas. This lack of awareness has had dire consequences. The situation is especially grim in the entire western region, where red panda poaching and trafficking have increased at an alarming rate.
Western Nepal constitutes more than half of the habitat available to red pandas, however, it is fragmented and unable to support a viable population. Protecting this region is a high priority project for RPN.
While challenges remain, our project inception activities have been implemented and received very well. RPN has begun establishing monitoring blocks in Community Forests, hiring and training local individuals as Forst Guardians and completed a socioeconomic status and environmental awareness survey. We organized consultation, awareness and sharing workshops, for government officials, journalists, and various community organizations in all three districts.