|Scientific Name:||Ailurus fulgens|
|Species Authority:||F.G. Cuvier, 1825|
Ailurus styani Thomas, 1902
|Taxonomic Notes:||Groves (2011) considered that the two taxa of Ailuridae, Ailurus fulgens fulgens and A. f. styani, should be treated as two separate species.|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Endangered A2cde+3cde+4cde ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Glatston, A., Wei, F., Than Zaw & Sherpa, A.|
|Contributor(s):||Wang, Y., Choudhury, A., Yonzon, P., Wozencraft, C, Ghose, D. & Dorjii, S.|
Red Panda is listed as Endangered because its population has plausibly declined by 50% over the last three generations (estimated at 18 years) and this decline is projected to continue, and probably intensify, in the next three generations. There is no credible quantification of decline rate from anywhere in the species' range. The overall forest loss rate at appropriate altitudes in the species' range is suspected to be sufficient for Near Threatened status (about 25% in the last three generations), but Red Panda populations are suspected to be declining much faster, reflecting a battery of direct threats, this species' fragmented present range, and poor survival in fragmented areas. (1) Red Panda diet is 98% bamboo. These plants show mass flowering followed by die off. Red Pandas will not readily find new feeding grounds in a highly fragmented landscape and are exposed to other threats when crossing unsuitable habitat. These bamboos do not easily re-establish after flowering in areas of environmental degradation and deforestation, which are now widespread across the species's range. (2) Red Pandas are highly susceptible to canine distemper (even developing the disease after vaccination with domestic dog vaccine), which is lethal to them. As more people, particularly herders, encroach Red Panda habitat, contact between domestic dogs (and their excreta) and Red Pandas increases. Unless all dogs (including feral ones) in Red Panda habitat are vaccinated against this disease the chance that it will enter and spread in the wild Red Panda population with catastrophic consequences are high. (3) Red Panda has specific habitat requirements for forest type, altitude, slope gradient and aspect, proximity to water courses, precipitation and presence of tree stumps. The gentle slopes and rich bamboo understorey of Red Panda habitat make it also a prime choice for herders with their dogs. Cattle also prefer these more gentle slopes, so trample bamboo, which is also collected extensively by herdsmen and used for fodder. In addition tree stumps are often collected by local villagers for firewood. (4) Hunting for trade seems to be increasing, Red Pandas are starting to enter the pet trade, perhaps partly in response to the increasing number of ‘cute’ images on social media. Deforestation and road building are easing access to Red Panda habitat. There are reports of poachers capturing Red Pandas in Nepal and Myanmar to satisfy the Chinese demand for the species (as wild meat, for medicine and for skins). The smaller population fragments, such as in Nepal, can support little or no off-take. (5) The human population in the Eastern Himalayas is growing at an average rate of 2.1% (doubling time 33 years). With this growth more people are moving into Red Panda habitat for their livelihoods, thereby exacerbating the above threats. Yonzon and Hunter (1991) showed that Red Panda mortality is high in disturbed areas; in their study area only three of the 12-13 cubs born survived to six months and only five of the nine adults survived the study period. They stated that 57% of these deaths were directly related to human causes. Comparable figures from undisturbed habitat are not available; but annual mortality rates such as these cannot possibly be sustainable.
The Ailuridae comprises a monospecific family. In part for this reason of conservation priority, with the evidence of precise decline rate being inadequate for certain discrimination between Vulnerable and Endangered, the precautionary course is taken of categorisation as Endangered, pending more precise information.
|Previously published Red List assessments:|
The current Red Panda distribution is detailed in three Population and Habitat Viability Analyses (PHVAs) since 2010, covering all range states holding the species: Nepal (2010), China and Myanmar (2012), and India and Bhutan (2013). As discussed by Roberts and Gittleman (1984), Red Panda distribution range should be considered disjunct, not continuous. Reports, including a shot animal of undoubted identification and provenance, of a population on the Meghalaya Plateau of northeastern India, in anomalously tropical habitat (Choudhury 2001, Duckworth 2011) warrant investigation as soon as possible. Captive Red Pandas from the main distribution and habitat do not breed well in tropical conditions (Princee and Glatston in prep); the Meghalaya Red Pandas, if native, might be a separate taxon.
In Nepal Red Panda has been reported from 23 districts, but a number lack confirmed specific records. A further district, Darchula, contains suitable habitat but so far lacks any Red Panda reports. The westernmost global reports are from the Api Nampa Conservation Area and Khaptad in far western Nepal (Jnawali et al. 2012), but specific verifiable records there have not been traced since the 2010 PHVA, even though local people had affirmed Red Panda in these areas in the recent past. Two post-PHVA surveys failed to find the species in either area (H.P. Sharma pers. comm. 2011, A. Thapa pers. comm. 2014). The westernmost confirmed records are from Kalikot and Jumla at about 81°E (Dangol 2014); both are west of the formerly accepted range. In Bhutan it is found in 13 districts (Haa, Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Gasa, Trongsa, Zhemgang, Bumthang, Mongar, Lhuntse, Trashigang and Trashiyangtse); high-elevation areas in other districts (Chukha, Tsirang, Dagana, Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar) require further surveys (Dorjii et al. 2012). In India it is found in only three states: Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh. In Myanmar it is known only from the northernmost state, Kachin, and is locally distributed even there (Than Zaw et al. 2008). In China it is found in three provinces, Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet. Sichuan is its main homeland. In this province its range extends through the Minshan and Liangshan to Qionglai and the Lesser and Greater Xiangling mountains (Wei et al.1999, 2011). It is believed to be extinct in the rest of its historical range in China, e.g. Guizhou, Gansu, Shaanxi and Qinghai provinces (Wei et al. 1999). The Xiaoxiangling population appears isolated from the other A. f. styani population(s). It is a small population and represents a different genetic type that should be considered as a separate conservation unit (Hu et al. 2011).
Native:Bhutan; China; India; Myanmar; Nepal
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
Red Panda was “estimated to be more common in the eastern part of its range, especially along the Myanmar-Yunnan border, yet it cannot be considered a common species” (Roberts and Gittleman 1984). There have been four undertakings to estimate, per country, the area of occupied habitat and from this the approximate Red Panda population: Choudhury (2001), Mahato (2010), the recent Population and Habitat Viability Analyses (PHVAs; held in Nepal in 2010, China in 2012, and India in 2013) and Kendal et al. (2015). These show very little concordance (see Table 1 in the Supplementary Material) and whilst some differences might reflect real change between earlier and later assessments, most must stem from differing assumptions and techniques. The PHVA figures are taken here as the most realistic guides, although none has been corrected for suitability of gross area of broadly suitable habitat accounting for specific preferences. Yet Red Panda is selective in forest used with regard to level of annual rainfall, percentage canopy cover, and density of bamboo (e.g., Yonzon et al. 1991, Dorji et al. 2012, Zhou et al. 2013). These would ideally all be taken into account when estimating area of potential habitat. In addition, Red Panda is usually found near water-courses and in areas with many tree stumps, and apparently prefers medium-gradient or shallower, north-facing slopes. In combination, these factors will make the area occupied at average to high densities substantially below that of potential habitat. For example, taking into account forest type, altitude, precipitation and slope aspect, Yonzon et al. (1991) estimated only 68 km2 of the 1,719 km2 Langtang National Park to comprise suitable Red Panda habitat.
Regardless of the uncertainty of actual area occupied, increases in human population and the continuing spread of human activity has driven habitat loss and degradation since the assessment of Choudhury (2001).
|Current Population Trend:||Decreasing|
|Habitat and Ecology:|
Red Panda is closely associated with montane forests (oak mixed; mixed broad-leaf conifer; and conifer) with dense bamboo-thicket understorey (Roberts and Gittleman 1984). Conifer/fir forests seem to be preferred (Yonzon and Hunter 1991). Habitats above the tree-line are probably not consistently occupied given that Red Panda is essentially arboreal (Choudhury 2001). A dead Red Panda at 4,325 m asl in Arunachal Pradesh, in an area where the species is not generally known and far from any typical Red Panda habitat, was presumably a dispersant (Dorjee et al. 2014).
Red Panda is largely vegetarian, eating chiefly young leaves and shoots of bamboo. It also takes fruit, roots, succulent grasses, acorns, lichens, birds' eggs and insects (Hodgson 1847, Sowerby 1932). It is largely arboreal (Hodgson 1847).
|Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:||Yes|
|Generation Length (years):||6|
|Movement patterns:||Altitudinal Migrant|
|Use and Trade:||Red Panda is taken for various purposes including wild meat, medicine, pelts and pets. Levels of offtake are not well documented; nor are trends in offtake or geographical patterns of harvest and use. It has been suggested that the rising numbers in the internet pet trade in China are captive-bred, but this remains to be confirmed.|
Each of the three recent Population and Habitat Viability Analyses (PHVAs) listed the threats to Red Panda assessed to be most prevalent in their country/countries. Several problems occur throughout the species's range, albeit with some variation in assessed impact. The major threats are habitat loss and fragmentation; habitat degradation; and physical threats. These are all compounded by the region's increasing human population; climate change; natural disasters; inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations; mostly low political will and interest; political instability (in some regions); low coordination of stakeholders, funding and human resources; trans-boundary issues facilitating poaching, illegal collection of non-timber forest products, and Red Panda trade (skins and other body parts); and the movement of cattle herders/grazers during the breeding season.
In some areas, habitat is lost and degraded by commercial logging. In the Emaw Bum region of Myanmar more than 5,000 km2 have been logged since 1999–2000, resulting in many new roads into mountain areas, e.g. between the May Hka river and the China border. These logging roads not only destroy habitat directly, they also facilitate access for hunters and can destabilise the substrate. A recent video report from FFI shows two young Red Pandas crossing a landslide, the result of foreign road-building in the area.
The Red Panda is included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I (www.cites.org). It is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972, the highest protection possible for a species in India (Choudhury 2001). It is also legally protected in Bhutan, China (where it is classed as a Category II species under the Wild Animal Protection Law; Wei et al. 1999a), Nepal (Glatston 1994) and Myanmar (by the Wildlife Act of 1994). In China, the species is Red Listed nationally as 'Vulnerable' under A2ace. In the most recent Red List for Nepal (Jnawali et al. 2012), Red Panda is considered to be 'Endangered' under C2a(i),
China has 46 protected areas containing Red Panda (Wei et al. 2011), covering about 65% of the species’s habitat in China. Poor law enforcement in PAs was listed as a problem during the 2012 PHVA workshop (Wei et al. 2014). Livestock grazing and collection of non-timber forest products occur widely in these areas.
4. To improve awareness: design and implement a dedicated awareness programme using radio, pamphlets, posters, and documentary film; secure adequate funding; improve conservation education (with a focus on Red Pandas) in schools; establish/strengthen Green Force Clubs; implement a Red Panda research programme, identifying priority research topics, and including regular monitoring of its habitat; develop a trans-national ‘Project Red Panda’.
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|Citation:||Glatston, A., Wei, F., Than Zaw & Sherpa, A. 2015. Ailurus fulgens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T714A45195924.Downloaded on 01 October 2016.|
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