If the Bhutanese can do it for a yeti, a mythical Himalayan monster, Indians can do it for the endangered red panda.
Almost 14 years after Bhutan created the 750 sq.km Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary for the yet-to-be-sighted migoi, huge ape-like hairy yeti, a Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district has declared its forest as a biodiversity conservation zone.
The 7th century Lhagyala, among the oldest monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh, owns large swathes of a forest whose western boundary is along Bhutan’s yeti domain.
On Wednesday, the monastery officially declared about 85 sq.km of this forest as the Mon-Lhagyala Community Conservation Area (MLCCA).
Millo Tasser, the divisional forest officer of the area, said the local Mon-Lhagyala Buddhist Cultural Society and the Kalaktang Tsokpa, a confederation of more than 20 Monpa villages, authorised the monastery to mark MLCCA for biodiversity conservation.
The society is entrusted with managing the community conservation area where hunting and commercial extraction of forest resources are banned.
The official announcement means anyone violating the ban ‘order’ will be punished under the provisions of customary laws of the Tsokpa besides Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
“The focus of MLCCA, covering temperate and sub-alpine biomes, is on conserving the habitat of the red panda (Ailurus fulgens), alpine musk deer (Moschus chrysogater) and high-altitude pheasants,” Kamal Medhi of WWF-India told Hindustan Times.
The red panda, not as celebrated as the giant panda, is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species and also under the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
Found only in the eastern Himalayas, the red panda lives in deciduous and conifer forests mixed with bamboo undergrowth at an altitude of 2,200-4,800 metres.