Communities throughout Nepal observed International Red Panda Day (IRPD) 2018 with speech competitions, art activities and film viewings.

Taking place every year on the third Saturday of September, IRPD is a day to not only celebrate the red panda but also to educate people about red pandas and the threats to their survival. In the last two decades, the global red panda population has declined by more than 50 percent. As few as 2,500 remain in the wild.

Red Panda Network (RPN) launched IRPD in 2010 with more than 16 schools and zoos worldwide participating. Today, 5,000 students throughout the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in Nepal and 100,000 visitors at more than 60 zoos around the world participate in IRPD events.

Fun IRPD activities at Omuta City Zoo, Japan.

Staff showing their IRPD spirit at Assiniboine Park & Zoo, Canada

Coinciding with the launch of RPN’s campaign to stop the illegal red panda trade, many of this year’s IRPD observances highlighted red panda trafficking.

At Shree Sinwa Secondary School in Eastern Nepal, the celebration was bittersweet. It began with students and teachers listening to a presentation on red panda conservation that emphasized the scourge of illegal red panda poaching and trade. Afterward, the children watched the documentary “The Forgotten Panda” while nibbling on chocolate candies. Other activities included drawing and painting for students in grades five and under, and a speech competition on the role of students in the conservation of the red panda. More than 300 students, teachers and school staff in the region participated in the event.

In Western Nepal, students and staff in Jumla, Jajarkot and Kalikot districts marked IRPD with a variety of activities. Approximately 450 students, 42 teachers, three journalists and a chairperson of the school management committee in Jumla celebrated the day with speech and art competitions on conservation topics, a documentary viewing and a presentation on the “Role of a Community to Stop Illegal Trade.”

At the Shree Kasturi English Medium Boarding School in Jajarkot, students and school staff began the day with a presentation on red panda and biodiversity conservation. In addition, children in primary grades created artwork reflecting the event’s theme. A speech competition on the “Campaign to Stop the Illegal Trade” rounded out the occasion. In all, more than 500 students, teachers and other school personnel participated.

School outreach in Western Nepal

Students and teachers at Shree Panchakalika Higher Secondary and Jana Jivan Secondary schools in Kalikot District commemorated IRPD with sobering presentations on the illegal poaching and trade of red pandas and showings of “The Forgotten Panda” documentary. Jana Jivan students followed this up by organizing a quiz competition covering history, geography, biodiversity and current affairs. Meanwhile, students at Shree Panchakalika held a speech competition regarding the role of young people in stopping illegal red panda trade. In total, 350 students and 12 teachers at both schools took part in IRPD.

Outside Nepal, zoos and science centers around the world celebrated IRPD with educational activities, games and keeper talks.

RPN wishes to thank everyone who participated and helped make the 9th Annual International Red Panda Day a success.

Carson the Red Panda at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, USA.

Dawn Peterson
Writing and Communications Volunteer
Red Panda Network