Are there two species of red panda? Are they equally threatened with extinction?

January 31, 2022

Angela R. Glatston, Frank Princée, Leobert de Boer

Biology and Conservation of the First Panda 2022, Pages 421-434


The debate of whether the Ailurus genus is composed of one very variable species, one species with two recognized subspecies or indeed two separate species has rages on and off since the early part of the last century. However, the publication in 2020 discussing the genomic evidence for two phylogenetic species has caught the attention of the media. The discussion developed further when the second publication in 2021 showed the Styan's red panda was not confined to China and Northern Myanmar but also occurs in India in Arunachal Pradesh. Taking into account genetic, genomic and other differences between the two forms of red panda, the authors support the view the Styan's and Himalayan Red Pandas are separate phylogenetic species and should be treated as such. The rest of the chapter reviews the impact this new insight might have on the levels of threat confronting the red pandas and how this might influence conservation measures needed.