Red pandas (Ailurus fulgens
) live in the dense forests of mid-hills of the Himalaya
and feed almost exclusively on bamboo. They are vulnerable to extinction due to human induced disturbances. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation along with poaching are the most pressing anthropogenic threats to red panda conservation. The extinction risk to red pandas is further compounded by their life history traits
. However, there is a paucity of information regarding human impact
on red panda habitats. We have used presence and absence data collected from entire red panda range in Nepal, including habitat both inside and outside the Protected Areas (PAs) to examine the impact of human disturbance on their distribution. Our findings indicate that red panda prefer less disturbed habitats but will occupy human disturbed areas. Signs of poaching and cattle trails were significantly associated with red panda presence throughout Nepal while livestock
faeces and landslides
were negatively associated. Plant disturbance, presence of solid waste
and proximity to herders' shed were significantly associated with presence of red panda in PAs whereas landslides and livestock faeces were significant disturbance variables outside the PAs. The findings show that red panda habitats are invariably disturbed and that integrated conservation programs such as awareness, livelihood support that reduces human dependency on forests, and regulations are must.