Saving Red Pandas

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As the world is bracing for sustainable development, it is essential for all the nations to carry out development activities and preserve the natural environment side by side. A harmonious relationship between humans and nature is needed for materialising the concept of sustainable development. Wildlife is vital for maintaining ecological balance, food-chains and natural cycles. Wildlife includes all living organisms like plants, animals and micro-organisms in their natural habitats.

Untamed mammals, reptiles, birds and fishes are also its part. Many birds and other wildlife species such as vultures, eagles and jackals play a crucial role in cleaning the environment as they feed on dead bodies of other animals. What is equally interesting is that numerous wildlife species also work as scavengers and decomposers since they convert micro-organisms into a host of nutrients and release energy back to the nature by boosting fertility of the soil. Wildlife contributes to preserving gene banks as well. Thus, the significance of wildlife is now increasing globally more than ever before. 

Researchers are often found conducting experiments on wild animals like monkeys, rabbits, Guinea-pigs and rats. They use wildlife for studying anatomy, physiology, ecology and other evolutionary traits. Such studies have proven to be helpful for saving the lives of humans. In addition, the preservation of wildlife leads to protection of forests. This may, in turn, result in the preservation of land, making the environment clean, green and healthy. In terms of floral and faunal species, Nepal is very rich.

The country is home to a wide variety of wildlife species ranging from the Asiatic Elephant, Royal Bengal Tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, Red Panda, monkey, hyena, antelope, wild boar and sloth bear to spotted deer. Blue sheep, musk deer, yaks, Himalayan tahr, among others, are found in the high-altitude region. Many rare plants are also available in different parts of the nation. These wildlife species have become a major tourist attraction in the country. 

Although there are a myriad of challenges of conserving wildlife in Nepal, there has been a growing level of awareness among the people living in places adjacent to national parks and other protected areas about the importance of such species. According to a news report carried by this daily on Monday, many members of community forests, who in the past used to hunt wild animals in the highlands of Panchthar, Ilam and Taplejung districts, have now started getting involved in anti-poaching activities. With this initiative, many more red pandas have begun appearing in the high-altitude areas of those districts.

Red panda is one of the endangered wildlife species, with less than 10,000 population worldwide. After the construction of roads in those areas, the locals had stopped sighting such animals. But now these animals are sighted occasionally. The local elderlies say that they had seen red pandas and other wildlife species frequently up until five decades back.

A desired progress has been made when it comes to conserving red pandas in those three districts after the launch of a community-based conservation programme by the Red Panda Network for Panda Conservation in collaboration with Panchthar’s Deep Jyoti Yuva Club, Ilam’s High Mountain Herbal Producer Organisation and Himalayan Conservation Forum, Taplejung. Now the community has become aware that such animals should be protected.

The organisations are now working together with the local governments. A textbook that has been created on red pandas is now taught in schools located in the conservation area. This is really a commendable initiative in conservation. 

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