University of Twente Student Theses


Predicting current and future habitat suitability for red pandas in Nepal

Panthi, Saroj (2018) Predicting current and future habitat suitability for red pandas in Nepal.

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Abstract:The red panda is an endangered species. Although they are protected by national laws in their range countries, its population continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Estimating and mapping suitable habitat plays a critical role in red panda conservation planning and policy. In this study, the red panda habitat in Nepal was predicted using a Maximum Entropy Model based on red panda occurrence data and environmental variables (including climatic, topographic, vegetation-related, and anthropogenic variables) under current and future climate and land use and land cover change scenarios. The study results indicated that approximately 13,800 km2 area was identified as the current suitable habitat for red pandas, with 40% of the habitat being covered by the existing protected area system. The largest habitat in Nepal was located in the Solukhumbu district and mainly covered by the Langtang National Park. About 75% of the habitat was distributed between 2400 m and 3800 m. It was found that the mean annual temperature, distance from human paths and livestock density were important variables to the prediction of current suitable habitat for red pandas in Nepal. The model suggested that the future suitable habitat for red pandas in Nepal will be increased by 6.5% under the future climate change scenario. However, the suitable habitat will be reduced by 0.5% due to the combined effects of future climate and land use and land cover changes. This is the first study that attempts to use comprehensive environmental and anthropogenic variables for predicting habitat suitability for the red pandas at a national level. The suitable habitat identified by this study is important and could serve as a baseline for the development of conservation strategy for the red panda in Nepal. The study recommends that the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation should coordinate with the Department of Livestock Services and the Department of Tourism to mitigate the impacts of livestock and tourist routes on red panda. In addition, the study recommends that Nepalese government should pay more attention to the land use planning in the future in order to mitigate the potential economic impact on red panda as well as other endangered species in Nepal.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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