Status and distribution of Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens) in Simsime community forest of Papung VDC of Taplejung district, Nepal
Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens), globally an endangered species of Himalaya, were studied in Simsime community forest of Papung Village Development Committee (VDC) in Taplejung district. It was carried out to assess status, habitat characteristics and threats to Red Panda. Three transects were laid out along the contours and their total length was 2200 m. The altitude of these transects varied from 2800–3400m. While moving along the transect line, the signs such as pellets, footprints and nests of Red Panda were searched and the GPS points were recorded in those places where the signs were observed. The habitat was assessed simultaneously to describe its characteristics in this community forest. Square plots of 10m * 10m, 4m * 4m and 1m*1m were laid out to assess trees, shrubs and herbs, respectively along contour lines at an altitudinal interval of 200 m between 2800 m and 3400 m and the plots were spaced at a distance of 100 m. Diameter at breast height (DBH) of major tree species (Juniperus spp., Pinus spp., Acer spp. and Rhododendron spp) was measured in the plots. The signs were found in Simsime community forest at an altitude of 3026 m, 3125 m and 3127 m. Overall sign encounter rate for this community forest was 1.36/km. Acer spp. had the highest Importance Value Index (IVI) and Arundinaria malingers the major bamboo species with highest relative frequency (RF). Based on direct field observation, major threats to Red Panda were found to be grazing and bamboo cutting in which majority of the respondents agreed.
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