The World Wildlife Fund estimates that there are less than 10,000 red pandas remaining in the world. However, getting an exact estimate is difficult and some experts believe the number of red pandas left could be as low as 2,500.
Red pandas are classified as endangered by the IUCF. Over the past two decades, their population has declined by 40 percent and they continue to face significant threats due to climate change, deforestation and poaching.
This endangered species faces many threats to survival. One of the biggest issues is the destruction of the animal’s habitat. Trees that the red panda depends on for survival are cut for logging or to clear forests for agriculture. Red pandas are also killed for their fur which is used to make capes and hats. They also get caught in traps set for other animals.
Grazing livestock and the demand for firewood also leads to the loss of habitat. Red pandas are affected by climate change as rising temperatures force the animal to move to higher elevations while also increasing the risk of forest fires.
Numerous broad-based international initiatives are in place to save red pandas. They are a protected species in India, Nepal, Myanmar and China. Red panda habitats in these countries have been designated as protected areas. China has greatly expanded its conservation efforts since the 1990s, and have been successful in restoring much of the red panda’s bamboo forests.
Conservation groups also work with local communities to develop improvised animal husbandry methods to mitigate the threats of grazing cattle. Efforts are also made to reduce the dependency of the locals on firewood, while also promoting a more sustainable lifestyle that would reduce the threat of forest fires.
Info about red pandas
About the size of a large house cat, the red panda has a striking appearance with its rust colored coat, white round face, short snout and pointed ears. They live primarily in trees and most are found in high mountain forests of Nepal. Some red pandas also live in Bhutan, Myanmar, India and parts of China. Although they have an extra digit – a pseudo thumb – like the giant panda and have a similar diet, the two are different species.
Even though red pandas are classified as carnivorous, bamboo makes up 95 percent of their diet. The animals spent most of their time in the trees feeding on the bamboo’s leaf tips and tender shoots. Red pandas also eat fruits, grass, and roots along with the occasional egg, bird or small animal.
Red pandas are solitary, nocturnal animals that are most active at dawn and duck. Since bamboo has low nutrient content, the species doesn’t expend unnecessary energy and may become dormant in winter, only waking up for a few hours to forage for food.