Although there are plans to relocate Phub Dem, a Red Panda rescued from Trongsa by Forest Protection and Surveillance Unit (FPSU) of Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) as a two-month old cub, to Lamperi Botanical Park (RBP), it could not be done till date.
This according to officials of the Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) is due to budget constraints.
“Lamperi has been identified as a setting close to the Red Panda natural habitat but we need to put in place certain structures such as fences and barricades which are required to protect the panda from predators,” said Sangay Dorji of WCD. The Red Panda is commonly predated upon by the common leopard, and wild and domestic dogs which frequent the area.
Phub Dem has now attained an age of about seven months. According to the literature review done by Sangay Dorji for his MSc thesis on Red Panda, it attains sexual maturity at an age of about 18-20 months. The fences or the barricades will be built to ensure that a male panda can climb inside and mate her.
He also added that the Red Panda will be moved to Lamperi for educational and advocacy purposes. The visitors to the park will be able to see the panda for real and understand the animal better. This will help towards protecting and conserving the animal in the wild.
The cub could not acquire its natural survival instinct since she lost her parents at a very tender age. Hence, the forest officials wanted to make sure the panda cub is ready. “The cub survived with cow milk, later substituted with fruits and digestive biscuits,” said Sangay Dorji adding that since bamboo is the primary diet of panda, the cub had to be trained to accept the change in diet. “At first the cub suffered from diarrhea when we fed it bamboo leaf treated with honey. Now, it can feed normally and is very healthy too.”
The cub was in custody of a businessman in Trongsa when FPSU rescued it on 18 August last year. He is said to have found the cub by the roadside on the Trongsa-Bumthang highway during one of his routine business trips.