International Red Panda Day is observed annually on the third Saturday in September, which falls on September 16 this year, in order to raise awareness to species that is on the verge of extinction. The Red Panda Network introduced the holiday in 2010, and it was celebrated for the first time in September of that same year. The event is crucial because it raises awareness of red pandas, a species that many people aren't even familiar with.

Scientific Name

Ailurus fulgens


The red panda has a physique that resembles a bear and thick russet hair; it is somewhat bigger than a domestic cat. Its little eyes and the side of its head are white, while its abdomen and limbs are black with white markings. Red pandas are very adept and acrobatic creatures that prefer to live in trees. Red pandas are interesting since they are carnivorous and adore bamboo shoots. Snow is a favourite of red pandas. They sleep for 55% of the day. Red pandas are also known as Himalayan raccoon, bear-cat, and firefox. The Red panda species was discovered in isolated habitat patches throughout the mountainous regions of Nepal, India, China, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Red pandas can go into dormancy in extremely cold weather, which causes their metabolic rate to drop and then rise periodically as they awaken to search for food.

Role in food chain

Red pandas engage in a variety of interactions with other living things. They are first and foremost grubs, insects, and little birds' predators. They are also a source of food for clouded and snow leopards. In a similar way, owls and hawks eat red panda pups as prey.

Red pandas contribute significantly to the ecosystem of their natural environments. As they wander through the forest, they aid in the dispersal of seeds, and their diet of bamboo can aid in regulating the growth of this quickly expanding plant. Red pandas are so essential to maintaining the Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forest.

IUCN Status

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red panda is endangered.

Reasons of Declining Population

The Eastern Himalayas make up over half of the red panda's natural habitat. Red panda numbers are declining over much of their area as a result of the destruction of their forest habitat, which includes nesting trees and bamboo. There may only be 2,500 red pandas left in the wild after a 50% fall in the species' global population over the past 20 years. Threat No. 1 is habitat loss. Development initiatives such as highways, hydropower, electric transmission lines, mining, residential and agricultural conversions, and anthropogenic forest fires are fragmenting habitat.

The two main causes of red panda mortality are illness and loose dogs. Red pandas can contract seven different types of gastrointestinal parasites from dogs. Another danger from stray dogs is the canine distemper virus, which is very contagious and always lethal to red pandas. While there are very few dangers to panda populations in China, the red panda faces significant threats in Himalayan nations like Nepal, India, and Bhutan. Red panda poaching has greatly increased in Nepal, but its effects are still unknown.

Red pandas live in habitats with a fairly small temperature range, thus climate change is another issue. The movement of expanding human populations and animal herders will also have an impact on the animals' migration as they must shift to higher elevations as a result of rising temperatures. Higher ambient temperatures are detrimental to the survival probability of red panda babies born in Himalayan zoos, according to data analysis published earlier this year.

Conservation Strategies

Protecting against habitat loss, reducing habitat degradation, reducing red panda fatalities (through poaching and removing man-made risks), and raising awareness are the four main categories of activity that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has prioritised for red panda conservation.

In nations where red pandas are found, management plans call for "protected areas" with the goal of preserving both red pandas and other sympatric endangered species. The trend of protected areas establishment is growing in the terrain where pandas are found, and many techniques, such community forestry, managing community conservation sites, and constructing corridors, are used for effective conservation. To maintain the long-term survival of this red panda population, the International Conservation Fund of Canada is fostering stewardship among important stakeholders within the local community. Additionally, the organisation is gathering scientific data on red panda distribution, abundance, habitats, and current and emerging threats as well as identifying conservation hotspots for this species. It is also establishing long-term community-based monitoring and anti-poaching initiatives in 40 community forests.

Whether or not to preserve this "indicator species" may rely on how varied and plentiful its food supply is. The public should be informed about the usage of alternate energy sources, researchers say, and bamboo planting is just one of the initiatives that should be prioritised to stop further forest devastation.

About the Author: Nimra Cheema, being a zoologist, has a keen interest in biodiversity and how nature influence living beings.