On International Red Panda Day’s 10-year anniversary, record numbers of participants raise funds and awareness for red pandas worldwide.
September 21st is the 10-year anniversary of International Red Panda Day (IRPD) and we couldn’t have reached this major milestone without your support! Thank you for making this day of red panda awareness, educational outreach, and fundraising such a success!
In the past decade, this annual event has grown from 16 registered schools and zoos in 2010, to 115 (and counting!) schools, zoos, businesses, and organizations participating in IRPD events worldwide in 2019!
“Raising awareness about this amazing species” is a primary goal of IRPD, Red Panda Network (RPN) board member Nicki Boyd told me. Boyd, Associate Curator of Behavioral Husbandry for the San Diego Zoo, helped found the first IRPD with board members of the RPN in 2010.
“We knew we could gain momentum for awareness and fundraising for our conservation efforts by picking a day when zoos [and other organizations] could celebrate red pandas,” Boyd said.
Anyone who wants to register an IRPD event with RPN can do so, and to make your event a success, there are fact sheets, posters, images for social media, activity guides, and more for you to download and use on our website. Also, for the first time, IRPD educational and outreach materials can now be downloaded from our website in English, Japanese, Polish, and Czech.
This year, funds raised during registered IRPD events will go directly towards the Plant A Red Panda Home campaign, which began in 2019. This RPN conservation campaign aims to alleviate the effects of deforestation in 32 hectares of core red panda habitat in Nepal by planting native trees, installing fencing to protect newly planted saplings, and purchasing land in eastern Nepal for reforestation.
“Western Nepal has considerable areas of forest that are potential habitat for red panda. However, the forests are degraded and fragmented, which limits movement and food availability for local wildlife,” RPN Program Officer Dinesh Ghale said in a recent field update to RPN Communications Officer Pragati Shahi.
Since 2016, the RPN has reforested about 32.7 hectares of degraded red panda habitat with a total of approximately 20,000 saplings, local trees, and bamboo species.
The Plant A Red Panda Home campaign expands on these efforts, which are already aiding local wildlife. According to monitoring by RPN Forest Guardians and camera trap surveys, red pandas and other endangered wildlife are now flourishing in the regions of forest restored by RPN.
Replanting degraded forest in high priority areas, such as the Nepal’s Shree Gairemela Community Forest, “will improve the connectivity of forest patches and red panda population viability,” Shahi explained.
Involving kids in red panda conservation is another important goal of IRPD. It’s also a lot of fun, Boyd explained. For many people, including Boyd, teaching kids about red pandas is one of the most rewarding parts of IRPD.
Children who help spread the word about red panda conservation goals are known as Red Panda Rangers. For our tenth-annual IRPD, RPN aims to create as many new Red Panda Rangers in a single day as possible.
“Kids are our future conservationists”, Boyd said. IRPD is especially important for red panda conservation because it provides so many opportunities to teach kids about red pandas. The IRPD children’s activity guide “gets them excited about a species that isn’t as well known,” Boyd told me. “Some kids come back to see the red pandas again and again with their red panda plush toys saying it’s their favorite animal and some kids start fundraising for them through online donations for their birthday parties, bake sales, and more.”
Perhaps the best part of IRPD is the way it brings people of all ages from around the world together. “It’s great to see people all over the world rallying around red pandas,” Boyd said.
Holly Alyssa MacCormick
Writing and Communications Volunteer
Red Panda Network
*Photo at top of page from Greenville Zoo.