Location: Headquarters San Francisco, United States. Local offices in Nepal.
Founded: 2005 by Brian Williams (originally as Red Panda Project).
Species: Red panda
Projects: The Red Panda Network is committed to the conservation of wild red pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities.
Research: Research is the first step to design conservation programs and create benchmarks in which we can see the effectiveness of our programs. At Red Panda Network, our objective is to conduct initial non-invasive, cost-effective status surveys in all five range countries (Nepal, India, Bhutan, Burma, and China) by the end of 2015, with research programs already established in the Panchthar, Ilam, and Talejung areas of Nepal.
We created a community-based program to train “forest guardians” (local stewards) to implement survey and monitoring methodology with RPN’s guidance and technical assistance. This flagship program is known as Project Punde Kundo (a local name for red panda).
With a goal to train at least 12 forest guardians a year, we’ve continued to meet this goal for the last 5 years and on. This program is crucial to our success because it creates real ownership by local villagers and is the base from which we conduct the rest of our activities.
Conservation: We are community-based and focus on partnering with local non-profit partners in each of our working areas to implement our programs which produces greater conservation impacts with our funding. Through research, we identify unprotected red panda habitat with viable populations of 100 individuals or more. We put together action plans and identify forest guardians to conduct awareness-building workshops on red pandas with local villages and schools, and also to serve as a basis for continuing the Red Panda Network’s baseline research and monitoring.
We are training the “forest guardians” and other community members to be ambassadors of conservation, and we provide capacity building for alternative sources of income and resource use, such as more fuel-efficient wood stoves, solar power, medicinal plant production as highly productive cash-crops, eco-tourism, etc. This creates an appreciation of the value of the forest and wildlife, and it enables communities to protect them.
Using this methodology, we are in the process of establishing our first community-based protected area, the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) Red Panda Protected Forest, in the Panchthar and Ilam districts of eastern Nepal. This region is one of the most biologically-diverse areas in the world, critical not only to the survival of red pandas but also to other endangered species such as the clouded leopard and leopard cat, as well as an exceptionally rich avi-faunal diversity. However, this area is most important to red panda because it contains approximately 25% of Nepal’s red panda population (approximately 100 individuals found in 178 km² of habitat) and the Singhalila ridge red panda population is protected in only half of its range (in India’s Singhalila National Park).
The proposed Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Red Panda Protected Forest will be the largest “protected forest” in Nepal and the first to be managed by a network of community forests.
Education: From local villagers of red panda range countries who use red panda habitat for their survival to the general public in developing countries, few people are aware of the plight of the red panda.
The Red Panda Network’s first goal is to raise the level of awareness in local villages surrounding red panda habitat, and our second goal is to raise awareness in the general public worldwide.
We spread awareness through providing “forest guardian” workshops in the local villages, developing a middle-school curriculum for red panda environmental education, promoting youth involvement through our “Red Panda Ranger” program, enabling fundraising programs, publishing educational materials for zoos and schools, and working with zoos worldwide to put together information and events, especially for International Red Panda Day (third Saturday of September, annually).
Programme descriptions kindly provided by the Red Panda Network.
How to help
You can help Red Panda Network by donating, adopting a red panda, sponsoring a forest guardian, purchasing red panda merchandise and visiting red pandas in the wild with RPN (eco-trips).