Endangered Red Panda spotted in Tawang

Beyond the Horizon

By Pradeep Kumar

A little Red Panda, listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of threatened species, has been spotted at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said on Wednesday.

“Cute and little #RedPanda spotted in Tawang! The small mammal is listed as endangered in the IUCN list of threatened species. Cute and little # RedPanda ???? spotted in Tawang!

These bamboo-munching species mostly reside in Himalayan regions of Northeast. Let us together protect. They are important to safeguard biodiversity and maintain ecological integrity,” Khandu tweeted along with a video of the mammal… pic.twitter.com/h2RgbSvpwy — Pema Khandu (@PemaKhanduBJP) May 23, reports an agency.

According to the World Wildlife Fund website, the red panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat, with a bear-like body and thick russet fur. The belly and limbs are black and there are white markings on the side of the head and above its small eyes. Red pandas are very skillful and acrobatic animals that predominantly stay in trees.

“Namdapha Tiger Reserve spread over an area of 1985 sqkm (core area 1807.820 sqkm and buffer area 177.425 sqkm) where tiger project was launched in 1983. The project area consisting of Daphabum, the highest mountain peak in the reserve besides dense cover of vegetation with high hills, and numerous rivers and seasonal streams, which boasts of its unique faunal diversity with all four big cats (tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard, many rare and threatened species, like Hoolock Gibbon, Golden Cat, Marbled Cat, Mishmi Takin, Red Panda, Namdapha Flying Squirrel, White Wing Wood Duck, NamdaphaShortwing Bird,” I wrote   in this column on 01-08-09 -Microlight plane to track Namdapha tigers.

With the tiger population facing threat in India, union environment and forest ministry has decided to use microlight plane in Namdapha Tiger Reserve not only to track the big cats but also help their protection, as announced by then Union Environment and Forests Minister (independent charge) Jairam Ramesh at the conclave of tiger reserve directors at Sariska in Rajasthan.

“The other fauna that we have recorded during our project there in 2004 and during past visits include many mammals (including a red panda and black bear), 20+ species of snakes, 150+ species of butterflies – there is something for all visitors, no matter their special focus. Sport fishing and white-water rafting are also making an appearance in the area,” writes Anwaruddin Choudhury, one of India’s well known wildlife expert and conservationists, known as ‘Birdman of Assam’ and honorary chief executive of Rhino Foundation for Nature in NE India.

“Wild boars, deers, red pandas, wild cats and monkeys roaming on the busy but clear road and many species of birds seen all over in Lumla area during broad daylight was surprising for me,” I wrote in November 2012 while touring the area with then lawmaker Jamey Tahsi. Lumla, originally Lung La. means atop the windy pass, criss-crossed by perennial Nyamjang Chu and Tawang Chu (River) besides numerous waterfalls.

When contacted, Tawang DC Kesang Ngurup Damp, a nature lover, also confirmed that red pandas are found in the district.

The red panda is a small arboreal mammal found in the forests of India, Nepal, Bhutan and the northern mountains of Myanmar and southern China. It thrives best at 2,200-4,800m in mixed deciduous and conifer forests with dense understories of bamboo, though red panda evidences have also been found at 1800m.

This elusive species is found in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal in India. It is the state animal of Sikkim which hosts Red Panda Festival every year. The winter event features parades, live music and draws tourists and locals alike.

Listed as Endangered in the IUCN red list of Threatened Species and under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the red panda has the highest legal protection. WWF India has been working since 2005 in the eastern Himalayan region to conserve this species. Its goal is to halt the degradation of the red panda habitat, facilitate the recovery of the degraded habitats and enable community stewardship of red panda and its habitat.

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