Rare red panda spotting

Posted on 26 Apr 2018

"There’s lots to see on my way across Nepal on the GHT, it’s not just big mountains," writes Vince.

And right you are Vince! Our GHT trekkers were lucky enough to spot a red panda during their expedition which lay resting on a pine branch next to the trail. With a bear-like body, the red panda is slightly larger than the domestic cat at around 2 feet long (50-66cm). Its body is covered in thick, russet fur with white markings on the side of the head and above its eyes.

Currently, there are less than 10,000 red pandas remaining in the world and 50% of them can be found in temperate forests of the Eastern Himalayas. Unfortunately, there has been over a 40% decrease in its population in the last 50 years due to poaching and massive habitat loss in Nepal, China, India, Myanmar and Bhutan from deforestation.

Vince shared a photo (pictured above) of this rare sighting on his Instagram with the cheeky caption: "If I just curl up on this branch maybe you won’t see me."

The GHT ventures beyond the beaten track, where encounters with incredible animals like these are more likely than on well-trodden trails. By having the trip start where others end, the GHT definitely offers a unique and authentic experience.

6 Fun Facts about the Red Panda

Did you know?

•   According to the San Diego Zoo, Frédéric Cuvier, a French zoologist, first described the red panda in 1825 – about 48 years before the giant panda was catalogued. He called it the most beautiful animal he had ever seen and named it Ailurus fulgens, meaning 'fire-coloured' or 'shining cat'. 

•   The name panda may be derived from a Nepalese name for these animals, nigalya ponya, which means 'bamboo or plant eating animal'. The giant panda was given its name later because of similarities to the red panda.

•   Red pandas are not actually pandas, despite the name and some of their similarities. They are more closely grouped with the genetic family of skunks and raccoons. 

•   The average life-span of a red panda in the wild is around eight years.

•   Like giant pandas, they have an extended wrist bone which functions like a thumb to help grip bamboo sticks. They also have retractable claws which can be hidden within their paw.

•   Spending most of their life in trees, red pandas are skilful and acrobatic animals. They use their long, bushy tails for balance and to cover themselves in winter for warmth. They even sleep aloft!

•   Always wondered what sound a red panda makes? Well, they actually make a twittering noise. Researchers suggest that it is mainly used as a form of mating call.

What's a rare species you've spotted in the wild? Let us know in the comments below.

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