FGDeep within the forests of eastern Nepal, specially trained guardians are working hard to protect the vulnerable Red Panda.

Sadly the Red Panda was re-classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species last year, but an exciting conservation project by the Red Panda Network could be the key to protecting the species in the area.

Local people are learning the skills to become Forest Guardians so they can monitor wild Red Panda populations, and act as conservation ambassadors to educate communities on the effects of deforestation and poaching.

European zoos have teamed up to support the Red Panda Network scheme and Colchester Zoo’s Action for the Wild charity has donated €500 to date to go towards training and wages, along with clothing and equipment to help the Forest Guardians while out in the field.

As well as monitoring wild Red Pandas and collecting important data, one of the Forest Guardians, Panjo Sherpa, has been busy sharing his knowledge at a local school, training villagers about plant life and distributing seeds to help improve the habitat.

So far 54 local people have been trained as Forest Guardians and some have become successful nature guides for local ecotourism, helping to sustain their economy. Through employment and education, the scheme is empowering local communities to take action to preserve their forest biodiversity and hopefully secure the future of the Red Panda. We look forward to helping this vital project again in 2016.

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