The Endangered Red Panda
The Red Panda, known as ailurus fulgens, is more cat- or fox-like in size and shape than the typical, large black-and-white panda found in the wild or in zoos. With distinctive thick white, black, and reddish brown fur, a bushy tail, and acrobatic reflexes, this 2 foot 7 lbs. mammal can be found scaling treesin the forests along the Eastern Himalayas in China, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Because of its fur, the panda can withstand the year-round climate.
Not surprisingly, the panda’s diet consists of bamboo and other plant leaves and blossoms, berries, and even bird eggs. But because of the destruction of bamboo trees from other animals and manmade deforestation in favor of land expansion, as well as the threat of poachers, the red panda is often left without a place to nest, eat, or thrive, and is easily trapped and killed, its pelt sold.
Today, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has been working hard to help ensure the red panda does not become extinct. By collaborating with local yak herders and the general public in the region, people have increased their awareness of preserving the natural habitat and the pandas’ lives. They have enforced steep fines and jail time to poachers and those caught selling or buying red panda pelts. So instead of decreasing the red panda’s existance for monetary gain, locals can earn income through making and selling yak dung briquettes, and promoting the tourism of the red panda’s homeland. While considered a threatened species today, with an estimated number of fewer than 2,000 left, it is hoped that as conservation measures continue, the red panda’s numbers will rise for years to come.
A Call to Action
No matter where you live across the globe, you can still be of help to the red panda population. In addition to the WWF, The Wildlife Conservation Society and The Red Panda Network are constantly seeking passionate red panda supporters and volunteers for research, education, and the planting of trees needed to sustain the habitat.
Even if you can only help from home, you can “adopt” red pandas in the wild or in zoos, donate to breeding programs and forest preservation initiatives, inform others of current conservation efforts, and adapt energy-saving practices in your daily living as a way of restoring the climate disurbances that have caused plants and wildlife to suffer.
Note: image courtesy of https://publicdomainpictures.net