The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) met recently for the second time under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Pema Khandu and approved the proposal for a comprehensive Red Panda Conservation Plan for the State besides declaring the first community initiated conservation festival – the Pakke-Paga Hornbill Festival – as an annual state festival.
Red Panda, one of the most endangered mammals in the world, habitats the forests of Arunachal Pradesh in presumably largest numbers. The State boasts of the largest amount of potential Red Panda habitat in India and therefore a conservation plan is being pushed by WWF (India) to preserve the endangered species.
WWF (India) has been working in two districts of West Kameng and Tawang covering more than 7000 sq km of biodiversity rich areas for more than a decade on community-based conservation of forests and wildlife. Red Panda is a major focal species on which wildlife conservation efforts have been focused since they are indicators of the temperate ecosystem. It was observed that despite having more than 1000 sq km Red Panda habitat under community conserved areas, there exists a much larger scope and need to expand the conservation efforts securing Red Pandas for future.
WWF (India) has proposed to develop a State-level management plan for Red Panda based on the advanced habitat analysis and stakeholder consultation and ensure its implementation through the State department of Environment and Forests. The plan will be first of its kind in the country and shall set a benchmark for all future conservation efforts for securing Red Pandas on a long term basis.
The Board also approved to celebrate the Pakke-Paga Hornbill Festival at Seijosa in East Kameng district, in the vicinity of the Pakke Tiger Reserve, as an annual event. The festival touted as the only wildlife conservation based festival of the State, which was being celebrated through community participation, will now be taken over by the State government.
Khandu directed the Environment & Forest department to ensure establishment of required infrastructure for celebration of the festival annually and make it a global event.