|| Red Panda
The red or lesser panda of the eastern Himalaya is easily recognized by its white face,
dark eye patches, rich chestnut back, dark limbs and faintly ringed tail. It is known to
sunbathe in the early spring, having just come out of hibernation, and is supposed to live
only on south-facing slopes. They live in temperate forests above 5,000 feet, where the
animal spends its days sleeping in trees.
Panda behaviour in the wild is predicted to
be constrained principally by a need for efficient acquisition and conservation of energy.
In the evening, it descends to the ground to hunt for food, climbing back to its roost in
the morning. Bamboo is the panda's staple diet because its nutritional quality varies
little seasonally; as a result, bamboo provides up to 100 percent of a panda's diet. (In
summer, however, the panda may turn to fruit and mushrooms as a supplementary diet.) A
pair will forage together, or there may be a family party of parents and young. Amazingly, a panda digests 12 to 23 percent dry
matter, and ingests up to 45 percent of its own body weight daily. Sight, hearing and
smell are not particularly developed. Its mating season is not known, but the usually two
young are born in the spring and remain with the mother until they are about a year old.
They are threatened by extinction in the Himalayas.