By Nirajan Poudel
Before becoming the chairperson of Nadangjay Poaching Control Group, Nwang Phinjo Tamang, was completely unaware of the fact that red pandas are endangered animals that are found sparely in the world.
Unlike previous days when he used to enjoy chasing these innocent animals, now he and his group members are intensely involved in the conservation of red pandas found in Rasuwa district.
His team spends at least five days searching and monitoring the whereabouts and habitats of the red pandas. Well equipped with devices like compass and GPS tracker, the team not only observes the daily activities of these red cat bears but they also clear all the traps set by the poachers to capture them.
And the credit for the conservation drive among the locals goes to Langtang National Park and the Buffer Zone area for educating locals about the significance of the lesser pandas and ways to protect them.
Under the guidance of World Wildlife Forum, the animal experts and officials from the park have been conducting a 10-day red panda conservation awareness program in the district for the last few weeks.
“Few years back, the forest area used to be filled with snares set for the red pandas and many locals were involved in poaching. Today, the scene has changed dramatically and the locals have started to show intimacy toward these arboreal mammals,” said Tamang. “People must be evil by heart to have the courage to kill such vulnerable animals,” he added.
According to the coordinator of the Lantang National Park Buffer Zone Area, Gautam Poudel, they have been monitoring and conducting research on various aspects of red pandas in the district.
“Considering the Gupchet river inside the park as the central point of the research, the research team has already completed monitoring the animals at Cholangpati, Dhokachot, and Polangpati areas,” said Poudel.
In an effort to conserve these vulnerable, the park has also established a Red Panda Protection Fund worth Rs 1 million.
“We thought that creating a fund for the welfare of the red pandas would inspire the locals to get involved in the conservation drive and it would also control defalcation of the budget,” said Bedkumar Dhakal, an officer at the park.
With its total population reaching 2,500 across the country, there are 150 red pandas in the park.