PIT Red Panda Protected Forest

Imagine
A place with thick forests filled with creatures of unparalleled diversity and beauty;
A place where luxuriant rhododendron stands bloom in pink, red, and white;
A place with some of the world’s most spectacular mountain vistas;
A place where 4 of the world’s 7 tallest mountains can be seen with a turn of your head;
A place where you can see endangered animals such as the elusive red panda roam free in their native habitat.

This place does exist. The Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) Red Panda Protected Forest has the densest population of red panda in Nepal and is part of the Kangchenjunga Singhalila Complex: one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. It is threatened by human population growth and expanding development.

It is here that the Red Panda Network is establishing the world’s first protected area dedicated to red panda.

Photo credit: Axel Gebauer

The PIT Red Panda Protected Forest is the largest protected forest in Nepal and the first to be managed by a network of community forests. It connects the tri-national Kanchenjunga Conservation Area with India’s Barsey Rhododendron Garden and Singhalila National Park, creating an uninterrupted stretch of protected land extending for 11,500 km2. It has been recognized as an important area for global biodiversity conservation by a number of leading international conservation organizations including WWF, BirdLife International and Conservation International.

This area is critical not only to the red panda but also to many other threatened species who share habitat with red pandas including clouded leopards, Himalayan black bears, and hundreds of bird species. However, this area is most important to red pandas because:

1. It contains approximately 25% of Nepal’s red panda population with approximately 100 individuals found in 178 km2 of habitat.

2. The Singhalila ridge red panda population is protected in only half of its range (in India’s Singhalila National Park).