Rewilding Red Pandas: India's first augmentation on endangered mammals

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the Eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. These little creatures typically only grow to about the size of a house cat. They predominantly stay in the trees. Red Pandas spend approximately 55% of their days sleeping. In India, it is found in Sikkim, western Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling district of West Bengal, and parts of Meghalaya. It is the state animal of Sikkim. They are threatened by Poaching. Many community-based conservation programs have been initiated in Northeastern India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China. 

Recently, in the first rewilding programme of red pandas in India, the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park aimed to release 20 red pandas in 5 years. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park serves as the central hub for the Central Zoo Authority of India's red panda programme and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 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 endangered mammal is found in the wild in West Bengal. The Singalila national park has 38 red pandas, meanwhile, Neora national park has 32 of them. The Singalila National Park will soon receive red pandas through this programme on 26 November.

There are some crucial factors in the rewilding programme, that is, the selection of animals to be released in the wild, breaking their food association with humans, and tagging the animals released in the wild.

Written by Shivani Mahapatra