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Evidence of fragmented Red panda habitats under Paro Forest division recorded

Eastern Himalayas constitute almost 50 percent of the red panda’s habitat. Red panda populations across much of their range are declining due to loss of their nesting trees and bamboos (WWF). Similarly, Paro Forest Division had never recorded any red panda presence in the past. Therefore, it was a huge relieve for Paro Forest Division when foresters recorded the presence of Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) at three different locations. On the other hand it was a huge concern for the division since two of the fragmented habitats were located at the vicinity of the human settlements and human activities are taking the toll on the local forests.

The Wildlife Conservation Unit under the division in the past two years scanned the forests to survey the presence of any endangered wild animals under the division. Paro Forest Division till date had recorded the presence of endangered wild animal species such as Tigers, Snow leopards, Asiatic wild dog, Musk deer, lesser known cats and Red panda being the most recent addition. Endangered and protected avian fauna species like Himalayan monal, Satyr tragopan and Wood snipe were also recorded in the division.

Paro Forest Division being located outside the Protected Area Network does not enjoy same legal status as the National Parks. Therefore, it was high time for the division to designate separate conservation areas in the form of Key Biodiversity Areas or Areas of Priority Interests to protect and conserve the degrading habitats. It is also, therefore, important for the division to carryout urgent intervention since the risk of local extension of the species had reached a critical level in these fragmented habitats.

 

Tshering, Wildlife Conservation Unit