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 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.

Damber Bista, Conservation Manager (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I have a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science that emphasizes wildlife ecology, but my passion lies in conservation biology and both the ecological as well as socioeconomic dimensions of wildlife conservation. I worked as Environment Officer with the SEAM-N Project (a bilateral project of the Government of Nepal and Finland) which provided me with vital experience in managing government supported initiatives. I joined RPN in 2011 and have been applying my knowledge and passion toward community-based projects ever since. I firmly believe that a conservation program can only be successful if it is based on sound science and ensures the involvement of local communities.
You can reach me at damber.bista@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 in 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

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 web marketing, the travel industry, and managed his own business manufacturing youth-sized backpacks for park junior ranger programs. Mark earned a BA in International Relations and is a Certified Interpretive Guide, National Association for Interpretation. He also enjoys storytelling, hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, and is a Wilderness First Responder.

You can reach me at mark@redpandanetwork.org