Red Panda

Nepal, Burma

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Synapsida
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Suborder: Caniformia
  • Family: Ailuridae
  • Genus: Ailurus
  • Species: A. fulgens

The Red Panda, or otherwise known as the Firefox is characterized by its red fur and fox-like appearance. Though the animal shares its name partially with the Giant Panda, the Red Panda is distinctively different.

The Red Panda has a unique appearance, much smaller than that of a Giant Panda, its body length is on average between 56 and 63 cm, and resembles that of a small bear. With a long tail, like that of a raccoon, which can reach up to 47cm in length, a feature extremely useful for balancing high on treetops. The Red Panda’s face has a similar resemblance to that of a raccoon or fox, with pointed ears and white fur markings. Like that of the Giant Panda, this species is found in Asia, around 50% of the animal’s habitat is found in the Eastern Himalayas.

The exact number of Red Panda remaining today is currently not known, however, it is surely a figure less than 10,000. The species has been drastically decreasing over time and today the animal is endangered.

Red Pandas are often killed due to human interaction with both the animal and its environment. Many get caught in traps that are intended for other animals such as wild boars, many are hunted for their pelts and fur. In Bhutan, Red Panda fur hats have been found for sale, evidence that sadly the fur market in Asia remains to be significant.

In terms of the Red Pandas habitat, much of it is destroyed to farm livestock, resulting in a huge loss of the animal’s main food source, bamboo, and trees to nest in.

Currently, conservation programmes are underway to help prevent the eventual loss of the beautiful Red Panda entirely. Around 38% of Nepal, is potential Red Panda habitat, therefore much of the conservation efforts are focused in this area. Through implementing fines for the hunting of this animal and implementing strict farming rules and regulations in the area, extreme efforts are being made.

If such conservation work continues, together we can make a positive impact, and prevent the loss of the distinctive Red Panda.

Estimated Red Panda population figures between 2001 and 2016

The graph above represents the estimated population changes between the years of 2001 and 2016. Today there are no more than 10,000 Red Panda individuals remaining in the wild. The Red Panda population has drastically decreased over a period of 15 years, from an estimated 14,800 individuals in 2001.

Approximately 4,900 Red Panda individuals were lost between the years of 2001 and 2016, almost one third of the original population. Overall, on average around 300 individuals are lost annually, should the current population decline continue the species could be extinct by 2065 if not earlier.

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