India home to both species of red panda: ZSI
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Ecology and Biodiversity
- Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India have concluded that India is home to both the (sub) species — Himalayan red panda (Ailurus fulgens) and the Chinese red panda (Ailurus styani).
- The Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh splits the red panda into these two phylogenetic species.
- The red panda was considered a monotypic species till 2020 until the scientists studied its genetic make-up with respect to the geographical distribution and described the occurrence of the two species.
- The reason for the reduction in the population size of the Himalayan red panda is due to the geological and climatic oscillations as the landscape was exposed to heavier topographic and geological changes through repeated cycles of the wet and dry periods during the last glacial maxima and Pleistocene Era.
- It is considered an indicator species for ecological change, the red panda is shy, solitary and arboreal animal. It primarily feeds on bamboo and avoids human presence.
- Director of the ZSI, said the overall conservation of this ecologically sensitive species required an effort from both the national and international stakeholders and adequate awareness among the local communities.
Important value additions
- The red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal species native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.
- It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List
- Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
- Despite its name, it is not closely related to the giant panda