SBWL approves Red Panda conservation plan

ITANAGAR, Apr 26: The State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), which met here on Thursday, has approved the proposal for a comprehensive Red Panda conservation plan.
Red Panda, one of the most endangered mammals in the world, habitats the forests of Arunachal Pradesh in presumably the largest number in the country. The state boasts of the largest number of potential Red Panda habitats in India, and therefore a conservation plan is being pushed by the WWF (India) to preserve the endangered species.
WWF (India) has been working in West Kameng and Tawang districts, covering more than 7000 sq km of biodiversity-rich areas, for more than a decade on community-based conservation of forests and wildlife.
The Red Panda is a major local 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 a 1000-sq km Red Panda habitat under community conserved areas, there exists the need to expand the conservation efforts to secure the Red Pandas for the future.
WWF (India) has proposed to develop a state-level management plan for the Red Panda, based on advanced habitat analysis and stakeholder consultation, and to ensure its implementation through the environment & forests department. The plan will be a first of its kind in the country and is aimed at setting a benchmark for all future conservation efforts for securing the Red Pandas on a long-term basis.
The SBWL also approved the celebration of the Pakke-Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF) in Seijosa in East Kameng district, in the vicinity of the Pakke Tiger Reserve, as an annual event.
Touted as the only wildlife conservation-based festival of the state, the PPHF, which was being celebrated through community participation, will now be taken over by the state government.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who chaired the SBWL meeting, directed the environment & forests department to ensure establishment of required infrastructure for celebration of the festival annually, and to make it a global event.
The board also approved a proposal for establishment of a high altitude breeding centre-cum-aviary at a selected location. It said the centre would be significant not only in view of promoting tourism but also for education, interpretation and breeding of pheasants.
The SBWL also approved a few other proposals related to wildlife clearance to allow land for construction of roads and defence establishments.
Meanwhile, the board members discussed the prevailing menace of land encroachment and illegal activities within reserve forests. It was decided that the government will relook the licences provided for guns that can be used for hunting wild animals.
The chief minister directed the home department to study the menace of illegal use of gun licences and submit a plan to deal with it to the cabinet. He also directed the department to issue strict directives to the DFOs and subordinate officers concerned to inspect and check wherever there are complaints of illegal activities in reserve forests.
Legislators Japu Deru and Paknga Bage, members from various districts, Chief Secretary Satya Gopal, Principal Secretary (E&F) Dr Rabindra Kumar, PCCF (WL&BD) Dr R Kemp, and representatives of the police and the WWF were present during the meeting.