Myagdi folks working hand in hand for conservation of red panda

Beni, Myagdi, Jan 6: As recent as few years back, the sighting of an animal with attractive body and shy nature in a jungle of Gurja of Haulagiri rural municipality used to incite locals for its instant hunting.

The Gurja folks used to kill the animal spotted in the jungle in search of its food. With the help of homemade weapons, they took the animal’s life for not being aware of its ecological importance.

Red panda was their choice for hunting because they neither did know about the identity of this species nor its importance. It was Red Panda Network and Himali Conservation Forum that reached among villagers with the awareness raising programmes about this mammal.

This animal is seen in community forests based in Lulang and Gurja, the most remote parts of the district. Now the locals have come up for its conservation, according to Gurja-1 ward chair Jhak Prasad Chhantyal.

School students are being given extra lectures about the endangered animal. Now, people here feel themselves special for getting opportunities to contribute to the efforts meant for its conservation and pride on localities are habitat of the animal, the rare species in the world, according to Chhantyal.

The Rural Municipality has decided to conduct regular training on the conservation and allocate budget towards that end. Bagar of Mudi and jungle areas around the Dhaulagiri peak frequently offered the sighting of red panda. They see abundant possibility to attract foreign tourists to their localities through the conservation of animal.

Gurja and Lulang adjoining the sole Wildlife Hunting Reserve is also home to muntjac, Himalayan ghoral, deer and wild boar. The Red Panda Conservation Committee is conducting a regular patrol to avert the possibility of the poaching. Surveillance around its habitat has been increased, according to Badri Baral, a researcher on red panda, associated with the network.

The estimated number of red pandas in the community forest of Gurja and Lulang and the Reserve is estimated to be around 200.

Nepal's National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act- 1973 has listed red panda residing in triangle forest at an altitude of 4,800 meters above the sea level under the category of protected animal and it mainly live on bamboo shoots. This is found in 24 districts of the country, according to the network.

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