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Red pandas to make a home in the forests

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    16th Jul, 2022

Context

The Singalila National Park, the highest protected area in West Bengal, launches programme that aims to release about 20 Red Pandas in a period of five years

About

  • Although sharing the same name as the Giant Panda, they are only distantly related to them, and are actually more closely related to raccoons.
  • Distribution: Most Red Pandas can be found in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and some high mountain areas of China and Myanmar (Burma).
  • Physical Features: Their fur is long, thick and fuzzy to protect it against rain and cold in its mountainous habitat of up to 5000m altitude.
  • Its colour helps the panda to blend with the reddish moss and white lichen growing on fir trees. They are 50 – 60 cm long and weigh between three and six kgs.
  • Red pandas are generally quiet, but subtle vocalizations—such as squeals and twitters—can be heard at close proximity. They are also capable of creating a high-pitched whistle.
  • Red Pandas are listed as endangered, this is due to various factors, but the main one being humans.
  • Loss of habitat and poaching has seen numbers of Red Pandas in the world drop to as low as 10,000.
  • Diet
    • Bamboo constitutes 85 to 95 percent of the red panda’s diet. Unlike giant pandas which feed on nearly every portion of bamboo, red pandas feed selectively on the most nutritious leaf tips and, when available, tender shoots.
    • They may also forage for roots, succulent grasses, fruits, insects and grubs, and are known to occasionally kill and eat birds and small mammals.
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