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In Nepal, the red panda is a protected species, but their numbers are dwindling as poaching and illegal trade of red pandas and their parts is on the rise. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of Nepal states that 90% of the nation's cases related to wildlife crime goes unreported.
The distribution of red pandas and their parts move from east to west in the mountain forests, with Kathmandu being the major hub for illegal trade. In collaboration with enforcement agencies, we have been able to apprehend local poachers and middlemen who are involved in collection and transportation.
We've been building anti-poaching networks—made up of local stakeholders including Forest Guardians—who patrol red panda habitat, remove traps and snares, educate locals on the importance of red panda conservation, and report poaching activity to enforcement agencies.
We now have eight anti-poaching networks in the PIT corridor of eastern Nepal where we have witnessed a 60% decrease in trap and snare presence. We also have three anti-poaching networks in western Nepal!
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We have little information on who the black market suppliers are and where these red pandas are being exported to. In order to combat the illegal red panda trade, we must strategically confront both sides of the industry: the supply and demand.
Red Panda Network is fighting back with the largest and most comprehensive effort to stop the illegal red panda trade.
RPN is building anti-poaching networks — made up of local stakeholders including Forest Guardians — who patrol red panda habitat, remove traps and snares, educate locals on the importance of red panda conservation, and report poaching activity to enforcement agencies (sometimes through the use of camera traps).
RPN now has nine anti-poaching networks: six in the PIT corridor of eastern Nepal and three in western Nepal! On average, each unit patrols in red panda habitat for 256 hours every year.
Forest Guardian members continue to rescue red pandas that are illegally trapped by poachers (or chased by feral dogs) and release them back into the wild. Learn more in Red Panda Rescue.
This is a massive on-the-ground investigation by our anti-poaching networks that provides critical information on the poachers in red panda range and the buyers and traders in Kathmandu and other export centers.
Reducing the demand will also require a large-scale operation. RPN is combating local misinformation on the market value and demand of red panda pelts and pets (more on the “fake market”). RPN is spreading the word that dead pandas are worth almost nothing and red pandas that are alive and wild can change the lives of local families by providing alternative income and sustainable livelihoods.
Social media has become a major platform for illegal wildlife trade. Red pandas have become a popular online attraction and a number of videos of this cute cuddly-looking animal have gone viral. While this popularity has helped us raise red panda awareness, there have been some undesirable outcomes. Red pandas are smaller than many charismatic species and appear to have a calm, nonaggressive temperament which likely appeals to buyers of illegal exotic pets.
RPN’s social media awareness campaign, #NoPandaPets will educate people around the world why red pandas do not make good pets and why the future of the species depends on wild red pandas remaining in the wild.
Decrease in trap and snare presence in the PIT corridor of eastern Nepal since 2015.
Members of 9 anti-poaching networks have been trained on patrolling techniques.