March's Animal of the Month is the wonderful red panda!
We are proud to be home to two red pandas at Marwell: Peter and Mei Mei.
This species is sadly endangered and populations can be found in Nepal, India and Bhutan as well as China and Myanmar. They prefer to live in forests that have a bamboo thicket that is tall, has many shrubs, fallen logs and tree stumps to make it easy for the red panda to reach the bamboo. These forests are often found on mountain sides.
The red panda is under threat because of habitat loss and the fragmentation of populations, poaching, the pet trade, and forest fires which destroy bamboo.
More livestock in the red panda’s territory can lead to over grazing of bamboo and increase contact with unvaccinated domestic dogs (or their poo!) which can give the red panda canine distemper and lead to their decline.
The red panda is now listed on CITES appendix I which means that it is prohibited to trade any part of a red panda internationally. The red panda is also found within many protected areas. Other conservation activities that would be useful to the red panda are habitat restoration by planting bamboo, restricting visitor access in red panda territories, developing an effective fire fighting strategy within local communities, offering a dog vaccination scheme and establishing anti-poaching units. Zoological parks offer a safety net population for potential reintroduction programmes and help to raise awareness of the red panda.