We’re pleased to welcome Pema Sherpa as the newest member of the RPN conservation team. As Conservation Coordinator, Pema will assist in implementing RPN’s activities in eastern Nepal by coordinating between RPN and its field partners. Some of her responsibilities include designing and establishing monitoring programs for red pandas and their habitat; collecting baseline data such as species distribution, habitat use and environmental factors; and assisting in the design and establishment of various red panda research and conservation programs in Nepal.
Pema has traveled a long road to get to where she is today. It all started when she was a young girl growing up in Olangchung Gola, Taplejung. “One day while I was collecting firewood, I saw a small reddish animal lying dead on the ground,” she remembers. “I didn’t know at the time that it was a red panda. The sight made me feel very sad, and when I returned home, I asked my mother about it. She told me it was nothing unusual – dogs killed such animals frequently in the wild. Nonetheless, this sowed in me a seed of deep passion for conserving wild creatures, which continues to grow today.”
Upon reaching adulthood, Pema enrolled at a local university, where she chose to study forestry. During the course of her education, she became involved in several wildlife research and conservation organizations, including the Society for Wildlife Research and Conservation (SOWREC), Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) and Bat friends Pokhara. However, one group in particular provided an exceptional opportunity to gain experience and make professional connections. “Through the Himalayan Scholars’ Group for Nature Conservation, I got to be involved in various conservation-related activities, such as planting and animal rescue,” she recounts. “It also gave me an opportunity to work closely with field staff from WWF Nepal who were doing research and conservation work in the area, which inspired me to continue pursuing my passion.”
After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree, Pema volunteered for a Red Panda Network project charting the presence and distribution of red panda in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL). Following a two-month internship, Pema has joined RPN as a full-time member of its Asia team, which is based in eastern Nepal. In her role as Conservation Coordinator, Pema says she’s more inspired than ever to put her skills and passion to work. “In my new position, I feel driven to give my best effort for the preservation of red panda and their habitat, and I look forward to what opportunities lay ahead.”
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