Introducing the Red Panda and Where to find it in India – Varun Mani

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.

Red Panda : A Family of Red Pandas – a more endearing site one cannot hope to witness.
A Family of Red Pandas – a more endearing site one cannot hope to witness.

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.

Highly Arboreal, keep your eyes on the trees all around!
Highly Arboreal, keep your eyes on the trees all around!

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.

Red Panda Adaptation
A specialised extra “thumb” helps the Fire Fox to pick out the tiny shoots of bamboo.

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.
A Panoramic view of the camp, which is nestled in the hills.
A Panoramic view of the camp, which is nestled in the hills.
  • The Rhododendron and Broad-leaved Mixed Forests, forest of the surrounding valleys and in the mountains nearby, are home to key wildlife species.
Habitat : Mountain streams in the dense Bamboo Forests.
Mountain streams in the dense Bamboo Forests.
  • 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.
600 species of Orchids are found here at Singalila, truly unique.
  • 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.
Rhododendron : Rhodendron Blooms of Summer, a riot of colours.
Rhodendron Blooms of Summer, a riot of colours.
  • The Rhododendron and Orchid Blooms of Summer make it a truly special experience to witness.
Sunrise : A Himalayan Spectacle : 4 of the World’s Highest Peaks can be savoured here.
A Himalayan Spectacle: 4 of the World’s Highest Peaks can be savoured here.
  • November to mid-May is when the park is open. Chances of seeing the Panda are high across Winter as well.
Winter at the Camp
Winter at the Camp

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.
Camp from Outside
The Homestay is part of a community-based development effort to employ locals and create a sustainable model of tourism at Tinchule Forest.
  • 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.
Habres Nest Sunrise Sitting Area
Splendid sun-rises greet you at the Homestay

Home-stay & Facilities:

  • 4 Rooms with Double Beds, Attached Western Toilets & a Balcony.
A cosy double bed at the Homestay, before an early start.
A cosy double bed at the Homestay, before an early start.
  • 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.
A well-stocked bar for a chilly evening session, or the morning – whichever works!
A well-stocked bar for a chilly evening session, or the morning – whichever works!
  • 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
Satyr Tragopan: A rare sight of the rare Satyr Tragopan.
A rare sight of the rare Satyr Tragopan.
  • Himalayan Monal
  • Fire-tailed Myzornis
Fire-tailed Myzornis
Beautiful birds such as the Fire-tailed Myzornis, can be seen amongst the thickets of the dense Mixed Forest.
  • Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Great Parrotbill,
Black-throated Parrotbill
The Black-throated Parrotbill, a unique and beautiful bird of the East.

Green Shrike-Babbler, Fulvous Parrotbill, Brown Parrotbill, Black-throated Parrotbill, Spotted Laughingthrush, Hill Partridge,

Hill Partridge
A seldom seen Himalayan avian amongst the under story – The Hill Partridge.

Yellow-rumped oneyguide, White-tailed Robin,Blue-fronted Robin, Purple Cochoa, Brown Bullfinch, Red-headed Bullfinch,

Red-headed Bullfinch
Several species of Bullfinch such as the Red-headed Bullfinch are found in the Singalila Ridge.

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.

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