WWF India’s initiatives

Understanding the distribution of the red panda and threats to the species and its habitat
WWF India's initiatives for red panda conservation in the Eastern Himalayas began with field research in 2005 to identify potential red panda habitats and the threats to the species and its habitat in Sikkim and Western Arunachal Pradesh.
An area of 1341 sq. km has been identified as potential red panda habitat in Sikkim. Studies show that more than 60 per cent of the red panda habitat was outside the Protected Area network. In Western Arunachal Pradesh, the Pangchen Valley of Tawang, and parts of the West Kameng district, including the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Mandala Phudung Khellong CCA (Community Conserved Area), Nyukmadung, Lish, Senge Dzong, Chug and Thembang Bapu CCA are identified as vital potential habitats.

Developmental pressures such as road networks, expansion establishments including military & paramilitary forces and other infrastructure pose a significant challenge to the conservation of the species.

Habitat degradation due to excessive extraction of woods for fuel and construction threatens the red panda habitat in Sikkim and Western Arunachal Pradesh.
Free-ranging dogs in the vicinity of the red panda habitat are leading to predation on red pandas. The occasional hunting of red pandas is also a concern in some areas.
Red panda habitats outside the protected area receive inadequate conservation focus, leading to further challenges for the species.
WWF India focuses on the following thematic areas for conservation of this   Conservation Interventions

Community Stewardship and Community Conserved Areas

In Western Arunachal Pradesh, WWF India works with local communities to enhance their capacity for better management and sustainable use of natural resources by introducing the CCA model.
In Sikkim, a pool of Red Panda Guardians is being trained to raise awareness about the red firefox. among the community at large, and also for regular monitoring of their habitats. Trained community members are also part of WWFIndia’s field teams for conducting field studies.  

Ensuring that local communities benefit from red panda conservation

With the introduction of the CCA model, the economic incentive activities are developed based on the need assessment and through community consultations. Community-based tourism and NTFP based livelihood programmes were promoted to support local livelihoods and to ensure long term conservation of red panda habitats.  
Tourism is an important livelihood activity in the Sikkim- Darjeeling region, and several popular destinations overlap with red panda habitats. WWF India supports communities to promote responsible tourism in these key habitats through capacity enhancement of tourism stakeholders. One of the primary focus in these areas is to improve waste management practices.
Continued engagement with communities and other stakeholders on education and awareness regarding the animal is also an important focus for WWF India. In Sikkim, a volunteer group of red panda guardians are also being developed to take this forward who shall also be engaged in field surveys, monitoring of red panda habitats, and raising awareness about the species.  

Mitigating threats to red panda populations:

Working with local communities to reduce forest dependence and involving them in conservation measures helps build support for red pandas. WWF India promotes improved cookstoves to reduce firewood consumption among forest fringe communities in the Sikkim and Darjeeling region. 
The management committees of the CCAs are oriented toward species conservation, and adequate training was provided to monitor the red panda conservation initiatives in the area. The management committees are equipped with camera traps, GPS and necessary field gear to conduct regular biodiversity monitoring surveys to safeguard high-altitude wildlife, including charismatic red panda. 
WWF India has also collaborated with the Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH) and launched a programme to sterilise free-ranging dogs to control their growing population around critical wildlife areas.

The future:

WWF India aims to secure the Eastern Himalayan temperate forests for the well-being of the people and red pandas. We are working to halt the degradation of red panda habitat, ensure that the species is thriving in its natural habitat and local communities experience increased well-being with our conservation efforts.
Our key objectives are as follows:
  1. Halt further degradation of red panda habitat and enable recovery of degraded sites
  2. Safeguard red panda populations at priority sites
  3. Ensure the local community benefits from the conservation of red panda and their habitats
  4. Identify the critical habitat needs for the red panda, develop scalable and evidence-based interventions and foster an enabling policy environment.

Implementing partners

WWF-India works in partnership with the Department of Forests, Environment and Wildlife Management, Government of Sikkim and the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Arunachal Pradesh to conduct research and implement conservation measures in the red panda habitat in these two states. Strong partnerships with the local communities, especially in the Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) in Western Arunachal Pradesh, play a major role in implementing conservation initiative in red panda habitat falling outside the Protected Areas network. 
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.