Red Pandas Are Cute, Fluffy, And In Danger
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Red Pandas Are Cute, Fluffy, And In Danger

An indicator species for regions in Nepal and western China, red pandas are disappearing fast.

Red Pandas Are Cute, Fluffy, And In Danger
Photo Courtesy of SpyderOnline

When I decided to begin supporting the Red Panda Network in its efforts to save “wild red pandas and preserve their habitat through the empowerment of local communities by community-based research, education, and carbon mitigation”, I quickly learned that red pandas were more than creatures that looked like a cross between a fox and a raccoon.

As of February 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species changed the status of red pandas from vulnerable, to endangered. The Red Panda Network estimates there are fewer than 10,000 red pandas left in the wild between western China through Nepal—that’s less than the average size of a student body at a mid-sized university.

Red pandas are also a crucial indicator species. Native to a particular habitat found only in these regions in China and Nepal, they require “an altitude of 4,600 to 15,000 feet,” and a lot of bamboo. So, if red panda populations are diminishing, this suggests habitats are diminishing as well. As people move forward with deforestation for crops and housing, the red panda becomes more endangered and so too do the other species of the area.

Everyone loves red pandas, from Anna Kendrick, to people in the 1900s (see Frederic Cuvier), to yours truly. So while people might not feel a personal connection to the forests of Nepal, or the trees being cut down, they can look at the fuzzy, round face of the red panda and be inspired to make change.

For my 23rd birthday, my friends decided to gift me with money that, rather than purchasing one more necklace or bottle of wine, would go toward adopting a red panda via the Red Panda Network. When I chose to adopt Bhim, a loving father and mentor to his cub Niyati, I knew this was a metaphorical adoption. 80 percent of donations are allocated to managing efforts within the local community such as reforestation, livestock management, and “sustainable medicinal plant” growth under Project Punde Kundo. All of these efforts help protect the habitat in which red pandas dwell as well as support the economy and people of the Nepalese villages.

The Red Panda Network also works with local people to run eco-tours, which not only boost awareness of the conservation crisis, but also bring money into the Nepalese economy. Personally, going on an eco-tour with the Red Panda Network is on my bucket list. To travel to a new country to learn about the culture, the environment, and my favorite animal would be such an amazing and eye-opening experience. But as I gather funds and scrutinize calendars, I keep following Red Panda Network and participate in their fundraisers such as their recent fundraiser in partnership with CustomInk and Booster.

In the “Help Save the Red Panda” booster, Red Panda Network sold 452 t-shirts and raised $5880. Because Booster is set up for non-profits and fundraising, all of the funds raised go directly to Red Panda Network. Booster only printed enough shirts to match the orders, which helps save costs by printing in bulk and eliminating surplus. So, think of it as a limited edition t-shirt that helps save red pandas, conserve Nepalese habitats, and support the local people. I call that a win.

That particular fundraiser has concluded, but follow Red Panda Network on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and sign up for their newsletter so next time you can get in on the fun and help make a difference.

Ways to Help:

1.Donate $100 or more and you can get a red panda plushie to remind you of the animal you’re helping.

2. Donate $5 per month or $25 and become a Red Panda Network member. Receive newsletters and updates, so you always know exactly how your contribution is making a difference.

3. Buy a Fire Fox, or red panda, bracelet from Creations4Wildlife. “40% of each bracelet sold will be donated” to the Red Panda Network.

4. Follow Red Panda Network on Social Media and look out for contests to show support. In March 2015, Red Panda Network’s online support system voted in European Outdoor Conservation Association’s contest. Red Panda Network was awarded $30,000! This is one of those times where sharing something on social media truly makes a difference. Plus, you don't have to be from Europe to vote!

5. Sign up for Amazon Smile through your Amazon account. You can still use Prime and go about your business as usual, but Amazon donates 0.5% of the price on eligible items to Red Panda Network. This is especially great if you're a broke college student buying your books on Amazon!

There are a million non-profits and charities vying for our attention, and many of them are incredible drivers of change. In my opinion, Red Panda Network is one of these charities. I know that when I say red pandas are my favorite animal, I am doing something to make sure future generations know what that furry little mammal is.

High five for red pandas!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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