Our Team

Our international team is headquartered in the US and our Asia team is based in Nepal. Our objective is to produce the largest impact with our funding.


Ang Phuri Sherpa, Country Director (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Ang Phuri Sherpa

I was born in the Solukhumbu district of the Mount Everest Region of Nepal. During my childhood in the 1970’s, I remember people from my village telling how "Ohprakpa” (red panda in Sherpa language) were caught alive with the help of dogs and sold at a local bazaar to earn a few bucks. They did not know what to feed the animal and how to keep it alive for a few days before selling it in the market, so they would feed it a mixture of wheat flour and water. As a child, I really did not know whether this treatment was right or wrong and what the importance of this animal was.

I only started knowing the importance of each species when I left the village and started studying biology at a college in Kathmandu in the 1980’s. I then came to realize how people unknowingly trap and kill these wonderful pandas because of lack of knowledge and in an attempt to earn a living. I first appeared in the biodiversity conservation field in the 1990’s as a conservation education teacher for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in Western Nepal. I received a Masters Degree in Protected Area and Tourism Management in 1996 from Lincoln University, New Zealand and became the head of conservation education at the Central Zoo, Kathmandu where I helped to formulate the Conservation Education Master Plan.

From 2001 to 2013, I worked for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal and wore a variety of hats and accrued many responsibilities. From 2001 to 2005, I worked as Project Manager for the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP), a joint initiative of WWF and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). As planned the Conservation Area was handed over to the local community in September 2006 for community management. Since 2006 I was the Country Coordinator of a regional level program funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The CEPF funding enabled local communities and civil society organizations to be engaged in local conservation initiatives in the Kangchenjunga Singhalila Complex and Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal.

After coordinating the CEPF funding, I continued on with WWF Nepal as Program Development Specialist where I helped to develop community-based tourism projects. Then at the start of 2014, I received an opportunity to work as Country Director for Red Panda Network. I am very excited to join the Red Panda Network team and committed to bringing in over 12 years of experience in community-based red panda conservation. We are losing red pandas because of shrinking habitats caused by anthropogenic activities, but I have a deep-rooted belief that conservation cannot happen on an empty stomach. We must balance the need for conservation along with the need for improving the lives of local people and only then when people have all their basic necessities met, can we support them in becoming true stewards of natural resources.

You can reach me at ang.sherpa@redpandanetwork.org

Haris Rai, Program Development Manager (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Born in a small remote village in southern Solukhumbu district, I obtained my primary level education from a local school. During my 2 months of summer vacation, I worked in my family's ancestral crop field, which was surrounded by lush green deciduous forest that supported a rich variety of wildlife. At this young age, I was responsible for driving away crop raiding monkeys and keeping away parrots, treepies, and magpies.

When I started university in 1985, in Kathmandu, I was surprised to see that wild animals and birds were only limited to textbooks and the Central Zoo. As a student, I volunteered with the Bird Conservation Nepal. This experience helped to deepen my passion for wildlife and I completed a Masters Degree in Zoology and Ecology. My early work with Bird Conservation Nepal grew into working with them for over a decade in a variety of capacities.

In 2006, I had an opportunity to begin transforming my volunteering experiences with professional skills in project management when I started working for WWF Nepal. It was a myriad of learning for almost 6 and a half years in the natural resource management sector both in the mountains and mid hills of Nepal. The major theme of field implementation was the conservation of wild species, including medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), Snow Leopard and Red Panda, climate change and integrated water resource management. Following this, I was engaged in a 3 and half year programme on managing the forestry sector, a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and bilateral development partners for building community as well as ecological resilience in the face of climate change impact and increasing poverty in Nepal. Following this, I worked on a core climate change adaptation programme covering 14 districts in mid hills and mountains in midwestern and far western Nepal.

For me, working for Red Panda Network (RPN) is an ample opportunity to link my academic background with the professional skills and experiences I acquired over the years. Wildlife has always fascinated me ever since my childhood and the charming red panda is, undeniably one of them. Nonetheless, conservation is a delicate balance between multiple elements of the ecosystem and it requires consistent and coordinated efforts. Therefore, my efforts, in the RPN would contribute to ensuring the survival of endangered red pandas in harmony with peoples’ livelihood in the Nepalese Himalaya.

You can reach me at Haris.Rai@redpandanetwork.org

Sonam Tashi Lama, Program Coordinator, (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Sonam has been with Red Panda Network since the beginning. He started by creating a library in his village in Taplejung on the edge of red panda habitat and is now supporting the conservation of red panda throughout its whole range in Nepal.

He is the recipient of several prestigious scholarships and recently completed his Master’s in ecology and international nature conservation form both Lincoln University and the University of Gottingen, after conducting one of the most comprehensive camera trapping studies in the eastern Himalaya. He loves spending time writing and being with his family.

You can reach me at sonam.lama@redpandanetwork.org

Pema Sherpa, Monitoring Officer, (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I was born and raised in the village of Olangchung Gola, Taplejung, in north-eastern Nepal. One day during my childhood, I saw a small reddish animal lying dead on the ground. I didn’t know at the time that it was a red panda. The sight made me feel very sad, and when I returned home, I asked my mother about it. She told me it was nothing unusual – dogs killed such animals frequently in the wild. Nonetheless, this sowed in me a seed of deep passion for conserving wild creatures, which continues to grow today.

In college, I studied forestry and became involved with several wildlife research and conservation organizations. After graduating, I volunteered for an RPN project charting the presence and distribution of red panda in the Chitwan-Annapurna Landscape (CHAL). Following a two-month internship, I joined RPN in 2016 as a full-time Conservation Coordinator of its Asia team.

I left RPN in 2018 to pursue a master's degree in Ecosystem Management and Conservation from The University of Melbourne. I graduated and returned as Monitoring Officer in 2021. I am now in charge of implementation, reporting and communication of our community-based programs in Nepal. As Monitoring Officer, I feel driven to give my best effort for the preservation of red panda and their habitat, and I look forward to what opportunities lay ahead.

You can reach me at pema.sherpa@redpandanetwork.org

Saroj Shrestha, Program Coordinator (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I specialize in program management, grant writing, and data analysis. My passion for conservation can be traced back to my childhood when, I used to travel with my parents to Dudhwa National Park in India where we would frequently spot Bengal tiger, Elephant and different bird and deer species. It was a very important and captivating time for me.

Before joining RPN, I was working as Program Coordinator with The Mountain Institute in Karnali region, Nepal. I earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Science, with a specialization in wildlife management.

I am thrilled and truly blessed to be part of the amazing team at Red Panda Network.

You can reach me at saroj.shrestha@redpandanetwork.org

Sony Lama, Program Associate (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I am currently pursuing a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Environmental Science from the University of Northampton, UK. My studies are focused on field research and analytics.

Although my coursework is busy, I actively participate in multiple extracurricular activities that benefit conservation programs.

My interest in conservation research centers around human-wildlife conflict mitigation, biodiversity, and behavioral studies among different species. Key motivators are facilitating a dynamic natural environment and encouraging an abundance of wildlife. I joined RPN following an internship.

My enthusiasm for wildlife fuels my passion. RPN has a central role in red panda conservation, and I'm delighted to help it accomplish its goals.

You can reach me at sony.lama@redpandanetwork.org
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Dinesh Ghale, Conservation Officer (Kalikot district, Western Nepal)

I have been connected to nature since my childhood and always wanted to work in the conservation sector. I come from a remote mountainous village in the Rasuwa district of Central Nepal. My interest in nature and wildlife conservation deepened once I joined the forestry program for my undergraduate degree. After completing my bachelors, I joined the Himali Conservation Forum, a local partner NGO of Red Panda Network in the Taplejung district. I enjoyed directly engaging with red panda conservation activities and the local community. I was lucky to sight wild red pandas, monitor their activities in the jungle, and at the same time advocate for their safety in the natural world.

You can reach me at dinesh.ghale@redpandanetwork.org

Munmun Tamang, Program Associate (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Munmun pursued a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. After graduation she started her conservation journey as a volunteer assisting the zookeeper in the Central Zoo, Kathmandu. This experience enthused her love of wildlife. Five qualities paint her passion for wildlife: love, integrity, commitment, passion, and fun for nature preservation. She would like to make a call-to-action so others can join the endeavor, be involved, and work together towards advancing conservation.

You can reach me at munmun.tamang@redpandanetwork.org

Wangchu Bhutia, Project Coordinator (PIT region, eastern Nepal)

I am originally from Bhotkhola-2, Sankhuwasabha eastern Nepal. I came into the conservation field soon after I have a bachelor’s degree in Science from Darjeeling India. It has already been over 12 years working in the conservation sector being involved in grassroots organizations for the conservation of biodiversity, mobilization of community, training people to cultivate Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs), teaching placed-based outdoor learning and bio-intensive farming, designing of permaculture, management of community-nurseries, and community-based eco-tourism. Additionally, I have a good understanding of experiential learning in nature education. I am passionate in conducting rigorous field research works in small mammals like red panda and pangolins.

In the past, I worked with KTK-BELT and Deep Jyoti Youth Club in eastern Nepal. When I worked at the Deep Jyoti Youth Club I have managed the field activities and reporting of the project from The Mountain Institute (TMI), Poverty Alleviation Fund, Nepal (PAF, Nepal), Local Initiatives for Bio-diversity, Research and Development Project (Li-Bird), CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund), Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) and other conservation agencies throughout remote regions of Nepal.

Before joining at RPN as a project coordinator I already worked as a guide during the red panda eco-trips, assisted Axel Gebauer, German Wildlife photographer and filmmaker in the fieldwork for the production of “The Forgotten Panda”, worked as a field biologist during RPN’s red panda and tourism survey in Myagdi district, and training local yak and dzomu herder of eastern Nepal on the management of pastureland.

You can reach me at wangchu.bhutia@redpandanetwork.org

Khagendra Karki, Administration & Finance Officer (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I am responsible for RPN-Asia’s administrative and financial management and provide financial projections and accounting services.

I hold a Master's Degree in Business Studies from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

I previously worked as an accountant for Shree Birta Dhanlaxmi Saving and Credit Co Ltd.

You can reach me at khagendra.karki@redpandanetwork.org

Janam Shrestha, Program Associate (Kathmandu, Nepal)

I joined RPN as an intern following the completion of my Bachelors in Environmental Science. My dissertation was on the critically endangered Chinese Pangolin in Kavrepalanchok district, central Nepal and this experience has provided me with a valuable understanding of the importance of community science and stewardship programs to long-term wildlife conservation. 

I am honored to work with RPN in achieving its vision and to gain more pragmatic knowledge and experience landscape-level and community-based conservation. 

You can reach me at janam.shrestha@redpandanetwork.org
Connect with me on LinkedIn


Terrance Fleming, Development Manager (Eugene, Oregon)

The first time I saw a red panda (or ever heard of one) was in a zoo just after high school. It was standing on its hind legs and for a moment I was convinced it was a toddler in a costume. I have been with RPN since 2013 and I am now certain red pandas are real and feel honored to be a part of such a wonderful team that is dedicated to protecting them. I have a degree in Conservation Biology and have nearly 12 years of experience in nonprofit development.

A highlight of my time with RPN was joining one of our ecotrips to Nepal and seeing this wondrous animal in its natural habitat.

You can reach me at terrance@redpandanetwork.org
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Mark Hougardy, Development Associate (Eugene, Oregon)

I enjoy building relationships between people and wild places so conservation initiatives can thrive. My role at RPN is to strengthen donor outreach and deepen membership engagement.

Before joining RPN, I worked in enterprise marketing, the experiential-travel industry, and nonprofit development. I have a BA in International Relations with additional work in environmental studies.

I'm also a Certified Interpretive Guide from the National Association for Interpretation, a Wilderness First Responder, and am completing studies as an Oregon Master Naturalist. When time permits, I lead educational travel programs with Road Scholar and am a volunteer webmaster at an international language school.

When not in the office I'm leading tours, storytelling, and hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail.

You can reach me at mark@redpandanetwork.org
Connect with me on LinkedIn