Our Team

Our international team is headquartered in the US and our Asia team is based in Nepal. Our objective is to produce the largest impact with our funding.


ASIA PERSONNEL

Ang Phuri Sherpa, Country Director (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Ang Phuri Sherpa

I was born in the Solukhumbu district of the Mount Everest Region of Nepal. During my childhood in the 1970’s, I remember people from my village telling how “Ohprakpa” (red panda in Sherpa language) were caught alive with the help of dogs and sold at a local bazaar to earn a few bucks. They did not know what to feed the animal and how to keep it alive for a few days before selling it in the market, so they would feed it a mixture of wheat flour and water. As a child, I really did not know whether this treatment was right or wrong and what the importance of this animal was.

I only started knowing the importance of each species when I left the village and started studying biology at a college in Kathmandu in the 1980’s. I then came to realize how people unknowingly trap and kill these wonderful pandas because of lack of knowledge and in an attempt to earn a living. I first appeared in the biodiversity conservation field in the 1990’s as a conservation education teacher for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in Western Nepal. I received a Masters Degree in Protected Area and Tourism Management in 1996 from Lincoln University, New Zealand and became the head of conservation education at the Central Zoo, Kathmandu where I helped to formulate the Conservation Education Master Plan.

From 2001 to 2013, I worked for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal and wore a variety of hats and accrued many responsibilities. From 2001 to 2005, I worked as Project Manager for the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP), a joint initiative of WWF and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). As planned the Conservation Area was handed over to the local community in September 2006 for community management. Since 2006 I was the Country Coordinator of a regional level program funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The CEPF funding enabled local communities and civil society organizations to be engaged in local conservation initiatives in the Kangchenjunga Singhalila Complex and Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal.

After coordinating the CEPF funding, I continued on with WWF Nepal as Program Development Specialist where I helped to develop community-based tourism projects. Then at the start of 2014, I received an opportunity to work as Country Director for Red Panda Network. I am very excited to join the Red Panda Network team and committed to bringing in over 12 years of experience in community-based red panda conservation. We are losing red pandas because of shrinking habitats caused by anthropogenic activities, but I have a deep-rooted belief that conservation cannot happen on an empty stomach. We must balance the need for conservation along with the need for improving the lives of local people and only then when people have all their basic necessities met, can we support them in becoming true stewards of natural resources.

You can reach me at ang.sherpa@redpandanetwork.org

Haris Rai, Program Development Manager (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Born in a small remote village in southern Solukhumbu district, I obtained my primary level education from a local school. During my 2 months of summer vacation, I worked in my family’s ancestral crop field, which was surrounded by lush green deciduous forest that supported a rich variety of wildlife. At this young age, I was responsible for driving away crop raiding monkeys and keeping away parrots, treepies, and magpies.

When I started university in 1985, in Kathmandu, I was surprised to see that wild animals and birds were only limited to textbooks and the Central Zoo. As a student, I volunteered with the Bird Conservation Nepal. This experience helped to deepen my passion for wildlife and I completed a Masters Degree in Zoology and Ecology. My early work with Bird Conservation Nepal grew into working with them for over a decade in a variety of capacities.

In 2006, I had an opportunity to begin transforming my volunteering experiences with professional skills in project management when I started working for WWF Nepal. It was a myriad of learning for almost 6 and a half years in the natural resource management sector both in the mountains and mid hills of Nepal. The major theme of field implementation was the conservation of wild species, including medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), Snow Leopard and Red Panda, climate change and integrated water resource management. Following this, I was engaged in a 3 and half year programme on managing the forestry sector, a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and bilateral development partners for building community as well as ecological resilience in the face of climate change impact and increasing poverty in Nepal. Following this, I worked on a core climate change adaptation programme covering 14 districts in mid hills and mountains in midwestern and far western Nepal.

For me, working for Red Panda Network (RPN) is an ample opportunity to link my academic background with the professional skills and experiences I acquired over the years. Wildlife has always fascinated me ever since my childhood and the charming red panda is, undeniably one of them. Nonetheless, conservation is a delicate balance between multiple elements of the ecosystem and it requires consistent and coordinated efforts. Therefore, my efforts, in the RPN would contribute to ensuring the survival of endangered red pandas in harmony with peoples’ livelihood in the Nepalese Himalaya.

You can reach me at Haris.Rai@redpandanetwork.org

Pema Sherpa, Conservation Coordinator (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I was born and raised in the village of Olangchung Gola, Taplejung, in north-eastern Nepal. One day during my childhood, I saw a small reddish animal lying dead on the ground. I didn’t know at the time that it was a red panda. The sight made me feel very sad, and when I returned home, I asked my mother about it. She told me it was nothing unusual – dogs killed such animals frequently in the wild. Nonetheless, this sowed in me a seed of deep passion for conserving wild creatures, which continues to grow today.

In college, I studied forestry and became involved with several wildlife research and conservation organizations. After graduating, I volunteered for a Red Panda Network project charting the presence and distribution of red panda in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL). Following a two-month internship, I joined RPN as a full-time member of its Asia team. In my role as Conservation Coordinator, I feel driven to give my best effort for the preservation of red panda and their habitat, and I look forward to what opportunities lay ahead.

You can reach me at pema.sherpa@redpandanetwork.org 

Saroj Shrestha, Program Coordinator (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I specialize in program management, grant writing, and data analysis. My passion for conservation can be traced back to my childhood when, I used to travel with my parents to Dudhwa National Park in India where we would frequently spot Bengal tiger, Elephant and different bird and deer species. It was a very important and captivating time for me.

Before joining RPN, I was working as Program Coordinator with The Mountain Institute in Karnali region, Nepal. I earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Science, with a specialization in wildlife management.

I am thrilled and truly blessed to be part of the amazing team at Red Panda Network.

You can reach me at saroj.shrestha@redpandanetwork.org

Sony Lama, Program Associate (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I am currently pursuing a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Environmental Science from the University of Northampton, UK. My studies are focused on field research and analytics.

Although my coursework is busy, I actively participate in multiple extracurricular activities that benefit conservation programs.

My interest in conservation research centers around human-wildlife conflict mitigation, biodiversity, and behavioral studies among different species. Key motivators are facilitating a dynamic natural environment and encouraging an abundance of wildlife. I joined RPN following an internship.

My enthusiasm for wildlife fuels my passion. RPN has a central role in red panda conservation, and I’m delighted to help it accomplish its goals.

You can reach me at sony.lama@redpandanetwork.org

Pragati Shahi, Communications Officer (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Pragati Shahi is an award-winning independent environment writer who has nearly a decade-long experience of working with print and digital media at national and international level. Previously, she worked as a Sub-Editor at The Kathmandu Post, a leading English national daily published from Kathmandu, Nepal, where she covered local and global environment and development issues, disasters, and also frequently reported on issues ranging from minority groups, women and children to migrant workers.

She was associated with Onward Nepal, a digital media company that promotes investigative journalism with thorough research on subjects focusing on science, technology, wildlife conservation, sustainable development, and current affairs as a Senior Environment Writer since its start in 2017.

Pragati has published investigative features on wildlife conservation and challenges, climate change, disasters and wildlife crime in Nepal. During her eight-year journalism career, Pragati has won various awards and fellowships including WWF Media in Conservation Award, Best Environment Reporting Award, South Asia Climate Change Award, and British Council Climate Champion. Her features have also appeared in several international media including Time, The Atlantic, Public Broadcasting Service, Broadly, UCANews and Al Jazeera. She has a B.Sc. in Environmental Science.

She was invited as a keynote speaker by the New South Wales, Environment Protection Authority, Australia, to talk about illegal wildlife trade. She has served as a member of executive board of Nepal Forum of Environment Journalists (NEFEJ), an umbrella organisation of Nepalese environment journalists.

You can reach me at pragati.shahi@redpandanetwork.org.

Khagendra Karki, Administration and Finance Officer (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I am responsible for RPN-Asia’s administrative and financial management and provide financial projections and accounting services.

I hold a Master’s Degree in Business Studies from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

I previously worked as an accountant for Shree Birta Dhanlaxmi Saving and Credit Co Ltd.

You can reach me at khagendra.karki@redpandanetwork.org

U.S. PERSONNEL

Terrance Fleming, Development Manager (Eugene, Oregon)

The first time I saw a red panda (or ever heard of one) was in a zoo just after high school. It was standing on its hind legs and for a moment I was convinced it was a toddler in a costume. I have been with RPN since 2013 and I am now certain red pandas are real and feel honored to be a part of such a wonderful team that is dedicated to protecting them. I have a degree in Conservation Biology and have nearly 12 years of experience in nonprofit development.

A highlight of my time with RPN was joining one of our ecotrips to Nepal and seeing this wondrous animal in its natural habitat.

You can reach me at terrance@redpandanetwork.org

Mark Hougardy, Development Associate (Eugene, Oregon)

Mark enjoys strengthening relationships between people and wild places so conservation initiatives can thrive.

He has worked in enterprise marketing, the lifelong learning travel industry, and nonprofit development. Mark earned a BA in International Relations. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide from the National Association for Interpretation and is completing a certificate as an Oregon Master Naturalist.

Mark enjoys storytelling, hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, and is a Wilderness First Responder.

You can reach me at mark@redpandanetwork.org
Connect with me on LinkedIn