Caretakers of an endangered, elusive Nepalese species
The Forest Guardians are local Nepalese people who work tirelessly to protect the nation’s endangered red pandas. There are only 1000 individuals of this beautiful but elusive species remaining in the country, and they inhabit some of its most spectacular – but usually extremely remote – forests. This means that the Forest Guardians need to be passionate about their work, braving inclement weather and harsh terrain to ensure that the red pandas are not threatened by human or natural causes such as poaching, habitat destruction and forest fires.
Since 2007, the Forest Guardians have been the backbone of the Red Panda Network’s community-based conservation programs in the hills of Nepal. The Red Panda Network is a non-governmental organization working to protect red pandas in the Eastern Himalaya.
The Forest Guardians initiative began with ten members in 2007. There are now 111 Guardians (of whom six are women) in ten districts of Nepal, who are dedicated to monitoring and protecting red panda habitats while also creating awareness among their communities to help conserve these special animals.
The Forest Guardians don many hats – forest stewards, citizen scientists, nature guides, red panda trackers, educators – but the one that is the most enduring is that of a Guardian of one of the earth’s most precious wildlife species.