'There's awareness and a change in behaviour'
Tracker , Habre's Nest
Mohan is a tracker at Habre's Nest, a wildlife travel enterprise on a mission to protect the red panda.
“I am from Maneybhanjang and have been associated with Shantanu and Habre’s Nest from the beginning. I’ve been a part of this initiative from when we were building this homestay ground up in 2016. Today, as a tracker who supports conservation, I earn enough to support my family.
Before, I didn’t understand anything or know enough about the red panda, even though I, like many others, would see them. Now, I understand the need for conservation and the value it adds to the biodiversity here. I understand better some of the behaviour of the red panda from having been able to observe it in its natural habitat.
Until a few years ago, the means for livelihood within and around these villages here were threadbare so some people would set traps and poach red pandas to sell the fur on the black market or sell the animal itself as a pet.
Today things are a lot different. There are laws prohibiting and penalising poaching. But there’s awareness and a change in behaviour too. Employment opportunities exist, thanks to the booming tourism.
As trackers, we do our bit to sensitise villagers every day. After all, it’s because of the red panda and these sensitisation trainings that Kaiakata has gotten visibility on the map and sees tourists from all over the globe.
Quite naturally, it has also brought competition and envy from peers within the tourism sector here. There have been instances when rumours are spread and Habre’s Nest gets wrongly accused, including that we keep red pandas inside the property. which is obviously ridiculous. Some things will need more time to change, I guess.”
Read about Habre's Nest here.
Photo courtesy of Shantanu Prasad
- Elita Almeida