From Wildlife Extra:
Two new populations of Endangered Western tragopan discovered
Two rare Indian pheasants’ new territory – Western tragopan is shy and silent
June 2011: The extremely rare western tragopan has been recorded at two new sites along the Pir Panjal range in Jammu and Kashmir. Sightings and calls of the pheasant were validated at the Kalamund-Tatakuti and Khara Rakh areas of the range.
A Schedule I species on the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN Red List, the western tragopan is a medium-sized, brightly coloured pheasant endemic to the western Himalayas and inhabits coniferous forests. Locals had talked about seeing the bird in April – but its presence was confirmed the following month.
‘The bird is extremely shy and silent. But knowing that the best way to locate the species would be during its breeding season, when it becomes highly vocal, we returned in May,’ said Riyaz Ahmad, the team leader and assistant manager, species division of WTI.
The victim of rampant poaching
A victim of rampant poaching for its meat and plumage and habitat degradation and fragmentation, the western tragopan has previously been reported only from Kazinag range and Kishtawar National Park in the state. A few scattered records occur from Sud Mahadeo area of Jammu province.
‘I was pleasantly surprised to note the tragopan’s presence in these areas. Unlike its usual haunts, the moist north-facing coniferous slopes, the present sites are located on the south face of Pir Panjal along Poonch,’ said Dr Rahul Kaul, South Asia representative, IUCN SSC Galliformes Specialist Group and Chief Ecologist, WTI.
In addition to western tragopan, the team also sighted another threatened species in the region, the cheer pheasant.
Ecologically diverse and representative of western Himalayan forests possessing key species such as the markhor, brown bear and musk deer, the team has recommended Kalamund-Tatakuti for notification as a protected area.
NEW YORK (July 3, 2012) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that the markhor – a majestic wild goat species – is making a remarkable comeback in Pakistan due to conservation efforts: here.