We implemented the world's first community-based red panda monitoring program and completed Nepal's first national red panda survey.
In 2016, Red Panda Network (RPN) collaborated with the Government of Nepal to complete the nation's first national red panda population and habitat survey. The study expanded 35 districts and confirmed the existence of red pandas in 23 districts and 7 protected areas, as well as provided important information on habitat quality, deforestation and climate change throughout Nepal's red panda range.
We also worked with the Government of Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation to develop the world's first protocol for community-based red panda field survey and monitoring.
In 2007, RPN created Project Punde Kundo, the world’s first community-based red panda population monitoring program. Since then, we have trained 150 local people as citizen scientists in red panda survey and monitoring techniques; out of the total, over 100 are members of our Forest Guardian team.
Our Forest Guardian (FG) program is the centerpiece of our community-based initiatives. They monitor and patrol red panda habitat four times a year and report population and habitat information — direct sightings of red panda, indirect signs such as pellets, footprints and foraging marks; as well as natural and anthropogenic threats — to our biologists and field staff. The result is baseline data that allows us to implement science-based conservation programs and evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.
Ongoing monitoring is beneficial in documenting the presence and establishing an index of red panda population in their habitat. The goal of this monitoring program is to gain insight into the status of red panda and how its population is changing over time under the pressure of anthropogenic activities. During monitoring activities, the FGs also remove snares targeted for red panda and other endangered wildlife, and in critical cases, they coordinate with representatives of the local CFs and Division Forest Office for effective law enforcement.
Our community-based approach promotes red panda stewardship. As community members are involved in the research and monitoring of their forests they begin to lose the local perception of the forest as a source of extractive income to one of long-term sustainable benefit.