Bista, D., Lama, S. T., Weerman, J. et al. 2021. Improved trapping and handling of an arboreal, montane mammal: Red panda Ailurus fulgens. Animals 11(4), 921.
It is sometimes essential to have an animal in the hand to study some of their ecological and biological characteristics. However, capturing a solitary, cryptic, elusive arboreal species such as the red panda in the wild is challenging. We developed and successfully tested a protocol for tracking, trapping, immobilization, and handling of red pandas in the wild in eastern Nepal. We established a red panda sighting rate of 0.89 panda/day with a capture success rate of 0.6. We trapped and collared one animal in 3.7 days. On average, we took nearly 136 (range 50–317) min to capture an animal after spotting it. Further processing was completed in 38.5 (21–70) min. Before capture, we found it difficult to recognize the sex of the red panda and to differentiate sub-adults above six months from adults. However, body weight, body length, tail length, shoulder height, and chest girth can be used for diagnosis, as these attributes are smaller in sub-adults. Our method is a welfare-friendly way of trapping and handling wild red pandas. We report new morphometric data that could serve as a guide for field identification.