Have you ever heard of the red panda? Believe it or not, the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is actually the original panda, discovered nearly 50 years before the Giant Panda! The name panda comes from the Nepalese phrase "punye kundo" which means "bamboo eater."
Red Pandas are more than just cute creatures, they are symbols of abundance. Where red pandas thrive you find healthy forests, vibrant ecosystems, and sustainable livelihoods for people. Yet, they and the prosperity they represent are quickly disappearing.
In the last 20 years, the red panda population has declined by 50%! It is estimated that fewer than 10,000 remain in the wild, and their population might be low as 2,500.
Extreme poverty and human population growth are driving locals to heavily depend on the forest’s finite resources for their survival.
As forests are cleared for farmland and development, and degraded by intensive grazing, the results have been disastrous for Himalayan wildlife and red pandas.
Furthermore, red pandas are poached for their fur and trafficked to meet a growing demand in the black market pet trade.
The situation is dire, but the dedication and work of Red Panda Network is making a difference.
Since 2007, RPN has been at the forefront of protecting red panda, their forest habitats, and working with local communities to create sustainable solutions.
We are establishing the world’s first protected area for these animals, the PIT Red Panda Protected Forest in Eastern Nepal. Here we have developed a community-based model; it prioritizes the economic needs of local families and supports them in achieving sustainable lives. Our Forest Guardian, organic farming, sustainable herding, ecotourism, and micro-enterprise initiatives are reducing poverty while increasing harmony between people and the forests they depend on.
Forest Guardians are the heart of our community-based approach. They are local people employed to monitor and protect the forests as well as educate their communities.
Red panda ecotrips support families living alongside red pandas as visitors enjoy local homestays and are led by local people trained as nature guides. And the new Center for Conservation and Sustainable Living is the centerpiece of improving living standards for local people.
It's going to take a village to save the red panda. But together, we can do this!
Together, we can save the last of the first panda.