Red panda conservation included in school texts

- SHAHIMAN RAI, PANCHTHAR

Aug 1, 2017-In an attempt to conserve red panda—the shy and charismatic endangered mammal species, among other birds and animals—conservation education has been included in school curriculum in Panchthar, Ilam and Taplejung districts from this academic session. 

Environment Conservation Education, which mainly focuses on red panda conservation, has been designed for Grade 6. Authored by Anil Adhikari, the text book has been prepared with the financial assistance of the Red Panda Network following the approval of the district education office of the three districts. The book was launched in Phidim, the district headquarters of Panchthar, last week. 

Panchthar, Ilam and Taplejung are the major habitat of red panda. Twenty-five percent of an estimated 500 red pandas in Nepal are found in three eastern hill districts. According to the Red Panda Network, the animal species is found in 23 districts in the country.

Pema Sherpa, the programme officer of the network, said that the subject with a full marks of 100 is being taught in each school in Panchthar, Taplejung and Ilam as pilot programme in the first phase. Conservation education will also be started in Grade 7 from the next academic session, she added.

Sunil Bantawa, the executive director of Deepjyoti Youth Club, a social organisation involved in wildlife conservation in the area, said the text book has been included in curriculum at Rastriya Basic School of Sandakpur in Ilam, Mayam Secondary School of Phungling in Taplejung and Chhiruwa Basic School of Phalelung in Panthar this year. 

Red Panda, known as Habre in Nepali, is one of the rare animal species inhabiting the temperate forests with abundance of bamboo in Nepal, India, Bhutan, northern Myanmar and southwestern China. The estimated number of red panda is less than 10,000 in the world. 

Conservationists blame unsustainable construction of roads through red panda habitat, deforestation, forest fire, poaching, excessive grazing, attack from the predators along with loss of major food are major challenges facing red panda conservation. Moreover, parasitic infections found in red panda during a recent study further worries the conservationists. 

Bantawa, who has been involved in red panda conservation in the area since long, expressed hope that the inclusion of conservation education in school curriculum would go a long way towards the protection of the endangered animal.

Published: 01-08-2017 07:28

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