For the first time, scientists have discovered there are two distinct species of red panda. And, this breakthrough could eventually have an important role in the conservation efforts of the species.

The endangered mammals are native to China, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Myanmar. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and Kunming found and proved that there are actually two distinct species of the panda: The Himalayan red pandas and the Chinese red pandas.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances, which revealed that Chinese red pandas have redder faces and have a more distinct white and dark red tail rings compared to the Himalayan red pandas.

The Himalayan red pandas can be found in Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar, Tibet and the western Yunnan province of China, while the Chinese red panda inhabits Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China.

“The delimitation of two red panda species has crucial implications for their conservation, and effective species-specific conservation plans could be formulated to protect the declining red panda populations,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

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