We develop community-based initiatives that benefit the livelihoods of local people. We partner with local non-profits and community organizations throughout the implementation of our red panda conservation programs.
RPN’s partner organizations in Eastern Nepal: Himali Conservation Forum in Taplejung, Deep Jyoti in Panchthar and Taplejung, and Shree High Altitude Herbal Production and Conservation Institute (SHAHPCI) in Ilam district. Western Nepal: Karnali Development Co-operation Service Society in Jumla, Himalayan Community Resource Development Center and Human Rights and Environmental Development Center in Kalikot, and Danfe Yuva Club in Jajarkot district.
Nepal has a unique Community Forestry approach to forest management where Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) protect, manage and utilize surrounding forests. We are currently working with 45 CFUGs and 73 Forest Guardians in monitoring red panda habitat and increasing red panda awareness among local communities.
We identify unprotected red panda habitat with viable populations of 100 individuals or more and work with local stakeholders to establish them as community-based protected areas. Utilizing this method, we are establishing our first community-based protected area, the PIT Red Panda Protected Forest: the World’s First Protected Area Dedicated to Red Pandas.
Photo by Axel Gebauer
We have replicated our community-based model in Western Nepal where red pandas were confirmed during our national red panda survey, and are under threat of extinction. Conservation programs are absent in this region and we have identified three districts in Nepal’s western region that are critical to the survival of this species. The activities we have accomplished in Western Nepal include:
Training of field biologists
Red panda survey (presence/absence)
Research & red panda population and habitat monitoring
Education, outreach & capacity-building
Inception & awareness-building workshops
Awareness workshop in Western Nepal.
“Conservation cannot happen on an empty stomach.” Ang Phuri Sherpa, Country Director,
Red Panda Network
We are committed to long-term sustainability by working from the bottom up and conducting deliberate, incremental project development that takes into account local wants, needs, and capacity. We promote community development and provide alternative economic opportunities for local communities. Our Forest Guardian program, along with ecotourism, anti-poaching network, alternative energy production, organic farming. and medicinal plant cultivation programs enhance local livelihoods in ways that foster red panda stewardship.
Habitat Protection and Restoration
RPN works with local CFUGs in protecting and restoring core red panda habitat and critical wildlife corridors. We work with local people in adopting sustainable livestock grazing and forest resource harvesting practices. RPN works with local herders in developing strategies that mitigate forest loss and degradation. This includes establishing cattle-free protected zones in core habitat, rotational grazing, forest restoration and revegetation, stall feeding, and improved herder hut designs (tents) that require less timber. We reforest degraded areas and plant red panda food species (including bamboo) and restore important water sources.
We are working on establishing a network of CFUGs throughout the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in Eastern Nepal. This network will be responsible for managing all Community Forests in the region. RPN also works with District Forest Offices and CFUGs in integrating conservation measures into CFUG Operational Plans.
Anti-poaching and Ending the Illegal Red Panda Trade
The red panda’s geographic range, which borders several known animal-trafficking routes, makes it vulnerable to poaching and illegal trade. RPN has responded to this growing threat by creating an anti-poaching alliance.
Our 73 Forest Guardians (FGs) are an important part of this network, which has the challenging task of curbing red panda poaching and trafficking in Eastern Nepal. The FGs have undergone training in anti-poaching investigation methods, which include recording signs of poaching, dismantling traps, identifying wildlife body parts and reporting findings to local law enforcement agencies.
Our goal is to continue to expand our network as well as increase awareness among local politicians, community leaders and indigenous people living within red panda territory.