SELECTION OF RED PANDA (AILURUS FULGENS) AS AN INDICATOR SPECIES IN SINGALILA NATIONAL PARK, DARJEELING, INDIABhupen Roka, Upashna Rai, A.K. Jha and Dhani Raj Chhetri
Indicator species is an organism which indicates the condition of the environment or response to stress that is inconvenient or expensive to measure and the population density, presence/absence, reproduction success and migration of the species may be used as an index of attribute. It is mainly use to assess environmental condition as an early warning of the problem and the ecological changes occurring in the nature. In this study, effort has been made to consider red panda (Ailurus fulgens) as indicator species in the Singalila National Park, Darjeeling, India. Red panda is an endangered, charismatic carnivore which has converted into herbivore mode of diet. It is found in Himalayan and Hengduan mountain ranges mainly at the temperate conifer and the adjacent broad leaf forest with mainly bamboo dominance within the altitude of 1500m and 4800 m above sea level. Anthropogenic pressure and rising human population is damaging the health of ecosystem and creating pressure on forest. Red panda is a solitary and shy animal and respond actively to the anthropogenic stress. Being a flagship, priority species and endemic to the region, red panda can be considered as an indicator species to monitor the ecological integrity and anthropogenic disturbance in the Singalila National Park, Darjeeling.