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Assessment of the Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Endangered Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) Habitat in Eastern Nepal

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Document pages: 14 pages

Abstract: Disturbances caused by livestock grazing are considered as a key attributable factor for the habitat loss of red panda. The present study was carried out in Eastern Nepal mainly focusing on the habitat preferences of red panda and impacts of livestock grazing on it. In total, 15 linear transects were delineated at an elevation interval of 100 m assessing indirect signs of red panda and livestock. Habitat preferences of red panda, vegetation abundance, coverage percentage of vegetation layers (canopy and shrub layer) and distance to water source were recorded using randomly plotted 58 quadrats of 10 m × 10 m. Questionnaire survey and Key Informant Interviews were carried out to evaluate the perception of local community on conservation threats and importance of red panda conservation. Jaccard’s similarity index was used to determine the spatial habitat overlap of livestock and red panda. Litsea elongata, Lithocarpus pachyphylla and Rhododendron falconeri were the most common species in the study area. Grazing signs were observed from 51 of red panda habitats in the study area. Livestock herding has induced negative impacts on the habitat of red panda inside the community forests. The study findings will extend the existing body of knowledge regarding the status of red panda in Eastern Himalayas. In addition, this research will help in the formulation of effective legal and strategic framework of sustainable grazing management.

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