On the red panda trail
Tracking the elusive mammal in the ancient oak and rhododendron forests of the Singalila National Park in the eastern Himalaya
In India, this threatened species is found in Sikkim, western Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal’s Darjeeling district and parts of Meghalaya
It’s 4am, and dawn is breaking. We are standing on the East Himalayan ridge at Sandakphu, the highest point on the zigzag Singalila trail that forms the border between India’s West Bengal and Nepal’s Ilam district. At an altitude of 3,636m (11,930ft), it is incredibly cold, but the view is breathtaking: I can see four of the five highest peaks in the world—Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.