Namaste from Taplejung!
Red Panda Network’s partner communities in Taplejung district celebrated the 3rd International Red Panda Day (IRPD) with the slogan “Save the red panda and its natural habitat” at Deurali, the planned construction site of the Red Panda Network Community Conservation Resource Center. More than 67 people squeezed into the temporary old building high on the mountain trail leading to the famous Pathibhara shrine, including 49 members from the villages nearby. The participants appreciated the idea of organizing the event among the community in this remote red panda habitat area, and invited the RPN team to select venues within their various communities for such activities again in the future.

The speakers committed their support for the initiatives RPN has taken so far with their suggestions:
1. Mitigative measures should be taken immediately to reduce the mortality rate of red panda in the area and RPN should take the lead.
2. Communities should be involved in the conservation initiative so that they take the stewardship towards red pandas and their forest.
3. Communities should be provided with economic incentives as return of their involvement.
4. Red panda based Eco-tourism should be promoted in a managed, sustainable way.
5. Alternative means of livelihood should be developed with the community to reduce the dependencies on fragile remaining forests.
6. Awareness raising activities should be intensified within the community.

At the conclusion of the program the participants rallied around RPN’s core idea of forming a red panda conservation committee so that the community members will actively participate in the conservation initiative, and asked RPN to take the lead.

The highlight of the red panda day event was the announcement that the Community Conservation Resource Center project will begin construction next year. The Chief Guest (Ex-Member of Parliament: Mr. Til Kumar Menegbo) inaugurated the CCRC design and construction work by unveiling the sign board “Community Conservation Resource Centre, Construction Site”.

The Community Conservation Resource Center will increase the earning potential and capacity of local people by being a focal point for training in sustainable living. This center will provide medicinal plant rearing, tourism hospitality and lodge construction, sustainable living, and fuel efficient stove building. Based on its income generating activities the center is designed to become self-financed and management can then be handed over to the communities.
Red Panda Network launched fundraising for the CCRC last year at International Red Panda Day 2011.
With about half of the funds raised so far from our long-term supporters such as zoos around the world and many donors at IRPD events, design and construction can begin next year, and we hope to inaugurate the first phase of the center at the next IRPD in 2013.

The representative of the Pathibhara Area Conservation Committee, Mr. Laxmi Kafle announced to all the participants that he will convince other members of the committee in their next monthly meeting to provide a permanent long-term contract for the free use of the proposed site, so that RPN, local partners, and the communities can invest in confidence.

The IRPD celebration and CCRC unveiling event attracted wide coverage in local and national media including radio, TV, blogs, and newspapers, such as The Kathmandu Times (eKantipur).

Photos from International Red Panda Day 2012 at RPN’s planned Community Conservation Resource Center site in Deurali, Taplejung, Eastern Nepal

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