This is the first time GPS-satellite collars are being used to study red pandas in the wild. During the 1980s, the pioneer red panda biologist from Nepal, the late Pralad Yonzon, had used terrestrial radio collars to study red pandas in Langtang National Park, central Nepal. A female red panda among the ten animals collared was named Pralad Devi in honour of the conservationist who was killed when his bicycle was hit by a truck in Kathmandu in 2011.
The other red pandas were named Paaru, Dolma, Chintapu, Mechhachha, Bhumo, Senehang, Ngima, Brian, and Ninamma by local people including Forest Guardians, and the names represent culture, landscape, language, and ethnicity of the region.
The GPS collars were first tested with two captive red pandas at Rotterdam Zoo to evaluate their effectiveness before being fitted on the ten animals in Ilam.
Says Janno Weerman at the Rotterdam Zoo who was involved in collaring the animals in Ilam, says: “It is very important that conservationists on the ground in Nepal and in Rotterdam work together to protect the red panda and their habitat. Part of this cooperation is the GPS collaring research. The results will give us insight into the ecology of the species and their natural habitat.”