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They are the only species of their kind and are ambassadors for a landscape that supports over 500 million people: nearly 10% of the global human population.
Unfortunately, there may be as few as 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild.
The red panda is the original panda, discovered some 50 years before the giant panda! They are a carnivore that has adapted to eating almost exclusively bamboo.
Red pandas are the only species remaining in their taxonomic family — a living relic of the past. Saving them is important to the preservation of the world’s natural heritage and global biodiversity.
Red pandas play a critical role in the conservation of the Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forest. The red panda is a charismatic species, and as such, plays an ambassador role to help tell the world about how important it is to protect this region.
Here are some ways conservation impacts them.
The forests where red pandas live are the lungs of South Asia. If these forests are intact and function properly they can help to combat global climate change and ensure a healthy life for the people, animals, and plants of South Asia.
The mountain chains of the Eastern Himalaya and parts of southwestern China - where red pandas are found - are the origin of South Asia’s three largest rivers: the Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Yangtse. These rivers provide water for half of China, northern and northwestern India, Nepal, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
Red pandas are an indicator of ecological health of the Eastern Himalayan Broadleaf Forest Ecoregion: one of our planet's biodiversity hotspots. Red pandas are also a flagship species. Their conservation has landscape-level impacts, and like an umbrella, the entire ecoregion — its forests and wildlife — are protected when red pandas are conserved.
Red pandas are a tree-dwelling species (arboreal). They live alongside other threatened wildlife, as well as human communities, all of whom depend on forests for their survival. But red panda conservation also has a global impact: If we protect red panda habitat and help to mitigate deforestation we are providing our planet with the many benefits of trees including cleaner air, cleaner oceans, and reduced runoff.