* Charles Sturt University collaborated with the Government of Bhutan and World Wide Fund For Nature Bhutan for the three day workshop
* Major threats to the endangered red panda in Bhutan were identified
* The ‘Red Panda Conservation Action Plan (2018-2023) drafted
Charles Sturt University’s Senior Researcher for the Institute for Land, Water and Society, Dr Joanne Millar, is leading a three year research project that aims to protect red panda habitat and the livelihoods of yak herder in the high altitude rangelands of Bhutan. Funded by the UK Darwin Initiative Fund, the project is focusing on severe land degradation, red panda habitat loss and herder wellbeing in the winter rangelands of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in remote eastern Bhutan.
The red panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat with a bear-like body and thick russet fur. They’re a very skilful and acrobatic animal that predominantly stays in trees. Most of the red panda’s habitat is in the Eastern Himalayas. However, the exact population status of this elusive and endangered animal is currently unknown.
35 people came together for a three day workshop earlier this month in Bhutan to share their knowledge and experience with red panda conservation in Bhutan, India and Nepal.
At the conference the major threats to the red panda in Bhutan and across the east and west borders of India were identified as habitat fragmentation, dog attacks/disease, livestock grazing and infrastructure development.
Dr Joanne Millar said “Bamboo is the main source of food for the red panda. One of the major threats to the survival of the animal is the loss of habitat due to overgrazing, bamboo die back following mass flowering, and timber harvesting.”
“One of the most important outcomes of the workshop was drafting the ‘Red Panda Conservation Action Plan (2018-2023): Ensuring the Future of Red Panda Landscape through National and Regional Collaboration’. It will be presented to the Bhutan Department of Forests and Park Services Technical Advisory Committee.”
Dr Karma Tenzing, post-doctoral fellow at Charles Sturt University will work with project partners to develop research and education programs for red panda conservation over the coming years.