Introducing the Red Panda and Where to find it in India – Varun Mani
The awareness and infrastructure of Wildlife Tourism in India is rising manifold and it is now the fastest growing form of Tourism in India.
There truly are wonders to be seen, and after conservation struggles and the successes ascertained, Endangered Species such as the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) or the Firefox can be seen now on specialised safaris in India.
The real-life “Pikachu” (from the vastly famous Pokemon Cartoons), these are one of the most beautiful and fascinating animals on the planet, which live in mesmerisingly beautiful habitats, rich in biodiversity.
About the Red Panda:
The Red Panda can be found in the high-altitude Himalayan forests of India, Nepal & Bhutan as well as the Mountains of Southern China and Myanmar. They inhabit in the Mixed Deciduous & Coniferous Forests which have a good density of Bamboo, at altitudes between 2200m-4000m above sea level.
They are highly arboreal, and can see amongst trees or bamboo. They primarily feed on bamboo shoots, leaves, acorns, roots, invertebrates, eggs and small birds.
The original “Panda”, the name was given to the Red Panda far before the Giant Panda was described. Earlier considered as descendants of the family of Bears, and then the Raccoon, it is in fact classified in a family of its own: Ailuridae.
They have long claws which help them maneuver through trees. They also have an additional 6th Digit in their hands or modified thumb – this enables them to pick out the shoots and the leaves of bamboo, which is their primary diet. It is not as highly evolved as the human thumb, but it is highly specialised for them in their feeding habits.
Singalila National Park India: The Best Place in the World to see the Red Panda
- The Singalila Ridge is located in the Himalayas, in the state of West Bengal, on the border of India and Nepal, stretching into Nepal.
- A famous birding and trekking route, it has so much to offer for every nature lover, one of the attractions would be the gorgeous panoramic view of 4 out of 5 Highest Mountain Peaks in the World including Mount Everest and Kanchendzonga.
- The Rhododendron and Broad-leaved Mixed Forests, forest of the surrounding valleys and in the mountains nearby, are home to key wildlife species.
- A Relocation Program me carried out for the Project Red Panda in 2004 has seen success, where in 02 females were introduced to the wild, from a Captive Breeding Facility.
- There are around 30 Red Pandas now in the forests of the Singalila National Park, which are well-protected.
- It is probably the best area to find Orchids in these cloud forests with almost 600 species which occur here, adding to the unique biodiversity of the area. It also is one of the most fruitful Birding Areas of India as well with close to 300 amazing Himalayan species recorded here.
- There are several rare birds, which occur in good numbers in the Singalila National Park, including the Satyr Tragopan, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Black-throated Parrotbill, Green Shrike-Babbler, Green Cochoa, Purple Cochoa, amongst several others.
How to get to Singalila:
- 04 hours’ drive away from the Bagdogra International Airport – well connected by flights from New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati.
- It is also an hour’s drive away from popular tourist town Darjeeling.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Singalila:
- March-May or Summer when the vegetation is at its lowest ebb, with the breeding season of the Red Panda and Birds, is a very fruitful time for a visit.
- The Rhododendron and Orchid Blooms of Summer make it a truly special experience to witness.
- November to mid-May is when the park is open. Chances of seeing the Panda are high across Winter as well.
How Many days to spend for the Red Panda Tour:
- A minimum of 5 nights at the Singalila National Park is recommended to see the Red Panda.
Price of the Red Panda Tour:
- Approximately USD 1700/- per person all-inclusive for our 05 nights/06 days Tour, from your arrival at the nearest airport.
Type of Safari at for the Red Panda:
- A 4×4 Land Rover vehicle does accompany while ascending the hills – however, one has to explore trails on foot to look for Red Panda. The drive at times may be a bit bumpy as it is on a mountainous terrain, but definitely worth it.
- Teams of local Spotters are on the lookout ahead, and in touch with the accompanying team, in case of any sightings of the Red Panda.
Type of Accommodation for the Red Panda Tour:
- An Experiential Homestay part of Community-based Conservation at Tinchule Forest, Singalila National Park.
- The facilities at the Homestay include 4 double rooms with en-suite facilities, all rooms have balconies with a wonderful valley and sunset view, room fireplace, running hot and cold water, in-house bird studio, lounge and dining with a bar, trained naturalists and power back up.
Home-stay & Facilities:
- 4 Rooms with Double Beds, Attached Western Toilets & a Balcony.
- A special Sunset from every balcony.
- Fireplace in every room.
- Running Hot & Cold Water.
- Natural Himalayan spring water & Filtered RO Drinking Water.
- Room Service (Morning & Evening Tea)
- Reading Library.
- International Calling Facility.
- TV in the sitting area (only for presentations & documentary)
- A stocked Bar cum sitting area with a fireplace which is the lounge area.
- Power supply (Generator) runs for 6 hrs/ Day and Solar Power.
- Perfect Blend of Local Food with Western choices.
- In-house Bird Studio with a hide.
- Trained Naturalists, Field Biologist, Guides & Porters.
- Exclusive Red Panda Tourism.
- Directly takes part in the conservation, 20% of profit margin goes to the Conservation fund. Be a part of Sustainable Tourism.
Highlight Mammal Species:
- Red Panda
- Clouded Leopard
- Yellow-throated Marten, Leopard Cat, (Melanistic) Barking Deer, (Melanistic) Leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Serow, Himalayan Pika, Himalayan Palm Civet, Ghoral
Highlight Bird Species:
- Blood Pheasant
- Satyr Tragopan
- Himalayan Monal
- Fire-tailed Myzornis
- Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Great Parrotbill,
Green Shrike-Babbler, Fulvous Parrotbill, Brown Parrotbill, Black-throated Parrotbill, Spotted Laughingthrush, Hill Partridge,
Yellow-rumped oneyguide, White-tailed Robin,Blue-fronted Robin, Purple Cochoa, Brown Bullfinch, Red-headed Bullfinch,
Darjeeling Woodpecker, Crimson-breasted or Rufous Breasted Woodpecker, Rufous throated Wren Babbler, Beautiful Rosefinch, Scarlet Finch, Gold-naped Finch, Collared Grosbeak, Himalayan Griffon, Slender-billed Vulture, Spotted Nutcracker, Gould’s Shortwing, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Sapphire Flycatcher, Orange-flanked Bush Robin or Red-flanked Bluetail, Indian Blue Robin, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Tibetan Siskin, Red Crosbill, Robin Accentor, Mrs.Gould’s Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Maroon-backed Accentor, ltai Accentor, Blanford’s Rosefinch, Rufous-capped Babbler amongst many many other species.