Red Panda Tour – Singalila National Park

Text and Photographs  : Krishna Daga . . . . . . . . . .

Red Panda Tour | Singalila National Park


Text and Photographs : Krishna Daga

A Stock Broker by profession and loves travel and photography. He has been travelling with us since 2015.

 


When I got the mail from Wandervogel for a photo tour of the endangered Red Panda, it brought out the evinced interest in me, though I had never undertaken any photo tour of this kind before in my life. Red Panda Tour

Being short of Photographic equipments, I hired some with the help of Wandervogel itself.  And with the hope of getting some lessons from our tour guide Siddhartha Goswami, whom I had never met before I reached Siliguri to join others. Red Panda Tour

From New Jalpaiguri we drove to Manebhanjang and after a quick lunch we headed to Singalila National Park in a remodeled 4w Land Rover which was custom made for Park’s rugged terrain and gravel road.  By noon we reached our Dormitory at Kaiyakata on the Indo-Nepal border. A Nepali couple runs this dorm. It had very basic amenities but still was very neat and tidy. Red Panda Tour

We spent the rest of the days roaming around the place, trying to photograph some of the birds. But this being my first experience I could not manage to get a single good shot of the birds.

Next day early morning we left our dorm in search of Red Panda. Our guide Mr Tukai Biswas had been to this place a number of times and had a fair idea of Red Panda habitats. But as it happens with most of the wildlife experiences, we roamed around the jungle but had to return disappointed. In the process we explored the flora and fauna of the jungle and did a lot of trekking on and off the gravel road.

Next day, we again started early in the morning and after trekking a few kilometers we set our base atop a hill while our guides went in all directions in search of the Red Panda. After patiently waiting for some hours, Neema one of our local guide came to inform us that Red Panda has been sighted. Everyone was excited and started following him.  After about 45 minutes of walk through various terrains, we reached the place where 2 (two) Red pandas were sitting atop a tree with their faces popping out.

Red Panda Tour | Singalila National Park

I had never seen a Red Panda, not even in a zoo. Seeing them in their natural habitat so closely was like a dream come true. We started clicking. Pandas were also sitting quietly as if they were also interested in being photographed. Dawn was nearing and we had to leave as we were deep in the jungle and it would  take us quite some time to reach back to our station. Back at the dorm it was celebration time. The rest of the day went by in recalling how tough the roads were but with the help of Neema who also doubled as our porter, we reached the place of sighting and what should be the area of focus tomorrow. 

Next day our guides decided that we stay at the dorm while they go ahead in search of Red Panda. We spent the day photographing birds around the place and chatting to trekkers passing by and waiting for the news of
Red Panda sighting. Later on one female Red Panda with her two cubs were sighted, but it was very late for us to go to the spot on time and come back before dawn. Hence we all had to remain content with the previous day sighting.

Next day we had to drive back to NJP to catch our train back to Kolkata. We started early again with a hope to catch a glimpse of the Red Panda but we ran out of luck again.

However, the days spent in the Park and the one sighting of the shy endangered mammal has left a very vivid memory in my mind.

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