Red Panda Network is excited to welcome Ang Phuri Sherpa as our Country Director in Nepal. Mr. Sherpa 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 bazar 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.” Mr. Sherpa 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. Sherpa 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 he helped to formulate the Conservation Education Master Plan.
From 2001 to 2013, Sherpa worked for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal and wore a variety of hats and accrued many responsibilities. From 2001 to 2005, he 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 he 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, Sherpa continued on with WWF Nepal as Program Development Specialist where he helped to develop community-based tourism projects. Then at the start of 2014, he 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 bring 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.”