Colchester Zoo Action for the Wild has supported the Red Panda Network since 2014, collaborating with other European Zoos to help sponsor forest guardians to monitor and protect red pandas in Nepal. Our donation this year was sent in April to help further the training and support of the 15 forest guardians supported via the European Ex Situ Programme (EEP) for red pandas held in European zoos.

The Forest guardian programme is a critical part of this community-based approach. Forest guardians are professional forest stewards and local conservation ambassadors who conduct regular monitoring of red panda populations and habitat, as well as awareness-building activities in their respective communities. They are also involved in anti-poaching patrolling and serve as trackers during eco-trips.

So far in 2022, 11 forest guardians have undertaken refresher training in Panchthar and Ilam districts, furthering their understanding about red pandas, their importance, conservation status and threats.

Group photo taken after successful completion of refresher training in Ilam District including Four EEP sponsored forest guardians.

Thirteen of the sponsored guardians have been carrying out regular red panda monitoring including tree surveys and data collection. The forest guardians monitor red panda habitat on a quarterly basis.

Two of the sponsored guardians have been anti-poaching monitoring. They conduct anti-poaching patrolling with the help of other local forest users every 6 months. During patrolling, they record information about poaching signs and dismantle any snares/traps they encounter. These activities will discourage poachers from entering the forest, resulting in a minimized threat for red pandas and other Himalayan wildlife in Nepal.

L-R: Practical on taking measurements of trees for collecting data on red panda habitat. EEP sponsored forest guardian, Mr Sancha Raj Limbu, collecting pellets during red panda monitoring. Anti-poaching patrolling team Ilam District. Field gear has been provided to enable them to fulfil their role effectively.

Forest guardians are on the forefront of red panda conservation work and it is crucial that they can withstand harsh and unpredictable weather conditions and difficult terrain.

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