ZSI Study: Both species of Red Panda found in India

Recently, a study conducted by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have revealed that India is home to both the species of Red Panda namely the Himalayan Red Panda and the Chinese Red Panda. The scientists further notified that the Siang river of Arunachal Pradesh splits the red panda in these two Phylogenetic species.

The Red Panda

The scientific name of the Red panda is Ailurus fulgens. It is also known as lesser panda, red bear-cat and the red cat-bear. It is a mammal species. The species is native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The estimated population of the species is fewer than 10,000 because of which, it has been listed into Endangered category of the IUCN Red List. The population of the red panda still continues to decline because of habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching and inbreeding depression.

Characteristics of the red panda

It has a reddish-brown fur, long & shaggy tail and a waddling gait because of its shorter front legs. The size of the red panda is similar to size of a domestic cat. It is arboreal and feeds mainly on bamboo. It also eats eggs, birds, and insects. The species is active from dusk to dawn.

Distribution

The red panda is said to be endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas. It is also found in the ranges from the foothills of western Nepal to China in the east. It has also been found across the southern Tibet, Sikkim and Assam in India. Bhutan, northern mountains of Burma, south-western China are some of its other habitats.

How it is protected?

The red panda has been listed into endangered category on the IUCN Red List since 2008. It is protected in all range countries. Its hunting is illegal. The species has also been listed in CITES Appendix I. India has 20 designated protected areas for their protection such as Khangchendzonga national park, Namdapha National park and Singalila National Parks. India has also made coordinated conservation policy for the red panda.