The Singalila National Park in West Bengal, will soon get new red pandas.
- A zoo in the picturesque Darjeeling Hills has started an ambitious programme to augment the wild red panda population.
- In the first rewilding programme of red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) in India, the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park will release 20 of these furry endangered mammals in about five years to the forests.
- The number of red pandas has been declining in the wild, even in the Singalila and Neora Valley National Parks, the two protected areas where the mammal is found in the wild in West Bengal.
- Recent studies estimate that there are 38 of them in Singalila and 32 in Neora.
- The Padmaja Naidu park, at a height of about 2,000 metres above the sea level, is one of the high-altitude zoos in the country and has been quite successful in captive breeding of the furry mammals.
Important facts –
- About 5,000-6,000 red pandas are estimated to be present in four Indian states – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and West Bengal.
- This is the second-largest population after China (6,000-7,000).
- Nepal accounts for 580 animals, while Bhutan and Myanmar have no estimate of the animal’s population.
About red panda –
- The red panda is a small reddish-brown arboreal mammal.
- It is listed as Endangered in the IUCN red list of Threatened Species and under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- It is found in the forests of India, Nepal, Bhutan and the northern mountains of Myanmar and southern China.
- It thrives best at 2,200-4,800m, in mixed deciduous and conifer forests with dense under stories of bamboo.