Red Panda Network is committed to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities.
Red Panda Network envisions secure, viable populations of wild red panda thriving throughout their historic range. Preservation of this species and its habitat benefits the region, and, as a result, it is valued and protected by all.
Red Panda Network began in 1997 on a trip to Sandukpur, Ilam. On a crystal clear day, with 6 inches of snow on the ground, Brian Williams and two of his Peace Corps friends were hiking along the Singhalila ridge soaking in one of the most spectacular views in all of the Himalaya.
Out of nowhere comes a foreign tourist running down the trail with his backpack swaying. He comes running up to us and asks, “Have you seen anybody today?“ (in a thick British accent). The three friends look at each other and say, “No. Why?” We're wondering what happened that would inspire someone from halfway around the world to be running around in 6 inches of snow at 12,000 feet, disregarding this amazing view. Then he says:
“Somebody's killed a red panda. I think it was a Nepalese person and they went back across the border.”
Brian said, “Nope we haven’t seen anyone. You’re the first person that we’ve seen today.” But in the back of our minds, all we could think about was…What’s a red panda? And why are they so important that they would cause this person to run around in the middle of nowhere trying to save one?
This one incident lead Brian on his quest to understand this shy, beautiful, elusive creature and to the creation of The Red Panda Project, which then became Red Panda Network. From 2002-2003, as a Nepal Fulbright Scholar, Brian became one of only 10 people to have studied red panda in the wild. For his study, he returned to Ilam and identified the distribution of red panda and threats to their habitat in Eastern Nepal. Through this research, Brian realized that something had to be done to raise awareness about the plight of red panda in Eastern Nepal and it was this inspiration that led to the creation of The Red Panda Network.