On the impact of earthquake-induced landslides on Red Panda Ailurus fulgens (Mammalia: Carnivora: Ailuridae) habitat in Langtang National Park, Nepal

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Yogesh Rana Magar
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0375-0742
Man Kumar Dhamala
Ajay Mathema
Raju Chauhan
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0505-9007
Sijar Bhatta
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3168-1171

Abstract

In addition to the threats of human encroachment, infrastructure development, tourism activities, habitat fragmentation, and human-wildlife interactions, natural disasters also pose a threat to the habitat of endangered species such as the Red Panda. This study aims to assess the impact of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake-induced landslides on the Red Panda’s habitat in Langtang National Park (LNP), central Nepal Himalaya. Remote sensing and geographical information system were applied to estimate the potential and core habitats of the Red Panda, and collect information on earthquake-induced landslides. Field sampling and verification of remotely collected data were done within a year of the earthquake. Considering preferred vegetation types, elevation range, aspects, distance from water sources, and Red Panda presence points, an area of 214.34 km2 was estimated as the potential habitat of Red Panda in the Park. Thirty-nine landslides were identified in LNP triggered by the Gorkha earthquake, 14 of which occurred in the core Red Panda habitat. As a result of the earthquake-induced landslides, a significant decrease in tree density was observed in the areas affected by the landslides. Similarly, the bamboo cover was observed to be significantly lower in the areas affected by landslides compared to the unaffected adjacent areas. The average size of the landslide, causing damage to the Red Panda habitat was 0.8 ha. The potential habitat damaged by the earthquake-induced landslide was estimated to be 11.20 ha which is equivalent to the habitat required by one Red Panda. The findings could be useful in initiating restoration of the damaged Red Panda habitat in LNP. 

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[1]
Rana Magar, Y., Dhamala, M.K., Mathema, A., Chauhan, R. and Bhatta, S. 2021. On the impact of earthquake-induced landslides on Red Panda Ailurus fulgens (Mammalia: Carnivora: Ailuridae) habitat in Langtang National Park, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 13, 9 (Aug. 2021), 19191–19202. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.6451.13.9.19191-19202.
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