Eastern hill districts, including Panchthar, are all set to celebrate the 6th Red Panda Day on Saturday.
Red Panda Day falls on the third Saturday of September and is observed across the world for the conservation of the rare species, informed Red Panda Network. Nepal has been celebrating the day every year since 2011, according to Sonam Tashi Lama, programme coordinator of the network.
According to the network, there are two kinds of pandas in the world — red and giant. Giant pandas belong to bear family and are found only in China while red pandas were discovered by scientists in 1825 — 50 years before the giant pandas were discovered. This year’s slogan for the day is ‘Celebrating Red panda, the Real Panda’.
Deep Jyoti Youth Club, Red Panda Network, High Altitude Medicinal Herbs Producer’s Association and Mountain Conservation Programme, among other organisations of the region, have been observing the day over the years. The network is set to organise various competitions, including quiz, elocution, essay writing, among others, at schools located in the conservation areas, said Sunil Bantawa, executive director of Deep Jyoti Youth Club, Panchthar.
According to the network, there are as many as 218 red pandas in the hill districts of Mechi at present. “The population was verified after completion of seven years’ of rigorous research,” read a statement issued on behalf of the network.
As per the study, the rare species are available in five VDCs of Ilam, three of Panchthar and 11 of Taplejung. The animal is found in a total of 605 sq km area of the districts.
Red pandas are also found in 224 sq km area of Taplejung. As per statistics, there are 134 red pandas in Taplejung, 43 in Panchthar and 40 in Ilam currently. The recent road expansion in rural areas has encroached on the animal’s habitat while also causing deforestation, smuggling, displacement of human settlement and wildfires.
These factors have been making a great impact on the existence of red pandas, said Wangchu Bhutiya, programme coordinator at Deep Jyoti Youth Club Sidin.