The red panda Ailurus fulgens is categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by anthropogenic pressures such as livestock grazing. We surveyed people living in or near protected areas and people living away from protected areas in Nepal, to understand human attitudes towards red panda conservation. Given Nepal's participatory approach to managing protected areas, we hypothesized that local people living in or near protected areas would have more positive attitudes towards red panda conservation than those in non-protected areas. Ninety percent of the 142 respondents had positive attitudes, with people living in or near protected areas expressing less positive attitudes than those in non-protected areas. Despite this difference between protected and non-protected areas, people were generally positive towards red panda conservation. However, positive attitudes did not necessarily translate to sustainable resource-use behaviour. We found there was a high prevalence of both livestock grazing and livestock disease in red panda habitat. We suggest that alternative farming practices (e.g. stall-feeding of livestock) and awareness programmes (e.g. education on the conservation status and legal protection of red pandas, and livestock–wildlife disease transmission) could be important tools to improve conservation attitudes and protect red pandas in Nepal.