Snow leopard conservation in Nepal


This 2017 video says about itself:

SNOW LEOPARD in the Nepal Himalaya

A short documentary on Snow Leopards, from our fieldwork in Nyeshyang valley, Annapurna region, Nepal. Turn up your sound and watch in full screen!

From the University of Cambridge in England:

Understanding local attitudes to snow leopards vital for their ongoing protection

October 23, 2019

Summary: Local people in the Nepal Himalayas value snow leopards as much for the potential personal benefits they gain from the animals’ conservation as they do for the intrinsic value of this charismatic species.

The team of researchers found that local attitudes towards the snow leopard were strongly linked to local views on the conservation methods used to protect them.

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are considered a ‘vulnerable species’, with an estimated 4,000 left in the wild, and Protected Areas have been created to safeguard their habitat. However, the animals range over much larger areas, and successful co-existence with humans is key to their survival. The potential for Protected Areas to restrict, as well as benefit, local livelihoods makes it imperative to consider how snow leopard conservation measures are perceived by inhabitants and neighbours of these areas.

“The snow leopard faces many threats to its survival. For conservation measures to succeed, they have to work for local people too, so humans and snow leopards can successfully co-exist. Wildlife conservation is a social process, as well as a scientific one,” said Jonathan Hanson, a PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, who led the study.

The researchers gathered information through a questionnaire to 705 households in two Protected Areas in the Nepal Himalayas where snow leopards and humans co-exist: Sagarmatha National Park — dominated by Mount Everest — and the Annapurna Conservation Area.

Local people in these areas gave a wide range of reasons for their feelings towards snow leopards. Those who felt negatively were mostly worried about co-existing with this top predator, and its potential danger to their livestock. Local herders can occasionally kill snow leopards in retaliation for their livestock being preyed upon. Positive attitudes towards snow leopards were most commonly driven by cultural beliefs in the intrinsic value of the species, and by its perceived beneficial impacts, such as attracting tourists and controlling wild herbivores.

The study revealed positive local attitudes to a range of conservation measures used to protect the snow leopards at both study sites. These measures included bans on the killing of the leopards and their prey, livestock compensation schemes, and environmental education activities.

In contrast, local people were more opposed to conservation measures they perceived would restrict their own livelihoods, such as limits on the collection of wood. The tourism industry, cited by many as a reason to support snow leopard conservation because of the revenue it brings, also puts pressure on forest wood supplies as fuel for tourist lodges.

Those who felt positively about conserving the leopards were driven by the same beliefs in the intrinsic value of the species and of the need to conserve it, but put even greater emphasis on the range of benefits they could gain from conservation measures.

Numbers of livestock owned per household, years of education, household livelihoods and age were found to be important in explaining particular attitudes.

“There is often a mismatch between the meaning and significance of ‘wildness’ to local societies and to outside conservationists,” said Hanson. “This new work shows that the success of future snow leopard conservation efforts depends not only on the right scientific approach, but on the attitudes of locals to the species and to the conservation measures being put in place to protect it.”

The Annapurna Conservation Area in north-central Nepal is the country’s largest Protected Area. The local people here participate in a decentralised conservation management regime involving a large amount of local participation and revenue sharing. Their attitudes to snow leopards have greatly improved since first being measured in 1993: the percentage of respondents who said they felt very negative towards the animals has fallen from over 60% to 4%. Attitudes were similar in Sagarmatha National Park, in the north-eastern part of the country, where conservation governance has also become increasingly decentralised since 2002.

This is the largest study of local attitudes towards snow leopards, and the first to comprehensively consider attitudes towards their conservation. The snow leopard is a vulnerable species of wild cat that lives in the mountains of Central Asia across 12 countries including Nepal. The many threats to its survival include loss of prey and habitat, infrastructure, energy and mining developments, the illegal wildlife trade, and climate change.

Spiny babbler, Nepal’s only endemic bird


Hat tip for this: Moorbey’z Blog.

By Sanjib Chaudhary, 30 January 2019:

The Spiny Babbler, Nepal’s only endemic bird, fascinates ornithologists and bird lovers alike

Although more than 800 bird species are found in Nepal, the Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) is the only bird that is endemic to the country. The greyish-brown bird, called Kaande Bhyakur in Nepali, lives in dense scrub and can be spotted more easily at elevations ranging from 500 meters to 2135 meters. Although the Spiny Babbler has been fascinating ornithologists the world around for years, environmental degradation is threatening this unique, much-loved bird.

The medium-sized bird is shy in nature and it’s difficult to observe them, except early in the breeding season when males often sing in the open. …

The Spiny Babbler, found only in Nepal, has fascinated ornithologists and bird lovers from around the world. Don Messerschmidt writes about ornithologist S. Dillon Ripley’s account of the bird in his book Search for the Spiny Babbler:

“It was a species that had defied scientists for years, since 1843 or 1844. At that time Brian Hodgson’s Nepali collectors working for him in the unknown vastnesses of Nepal had secured several specimens,” he writes. The Spiny Babbler “had remained a mystery ever since, one of the five species of Indian birds, which, along with the Mountain Quail, had apparently vanished from the face of the earth. But not quite, for if my guess was right, here it was hopping about large as life on the wooded slopes above Rekcha.”

The bird is threatened by the clearance of scrub for agriculture and expansion of urban areas. Outside protected areas, it is sometimes threatened by hunting, and the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley have seen a decline in Spiny Babbler numbers. However, the same habitat loss that is destroying the Spiny Babbler’s habitat in some areas might actually be creating more in others. As the forest continues to thin due to deforestation throughout the country, the scrub-dominated habitat that they call home is being created in its wake. But only time will tell what is in store for the population of Nepal’s only endemic bird.

Himalayan summit climbed for first time


This 26 November 2018 video says about itself:

Join David Lama from advanced base camp to summit on his successful solo push for the first ascent of Lunag Ri, a previously unclimbed peak of 6.907meters on the borderline between Nepal and Tibet. On 23 October 2018 the Austrian with Nepali heritage set out carrying a POV camera and was followed by a drone navigated from advanced BC.

This video says about itself:

Already in 2016, David Lama and Conrad Anker had set out to climb Lunag Ri, a stunningly beautiful, unclimbed peak of 6.907meters on the borderline between Nepal and Tibet. As things didn’t go as planned the duo has to retreat just shy of the summit but returns one year later, determined to bring the project to an end. Despite prime conditions and all the knowledge gathered during their last attempt, their endeavor is stopped rapidly with Anker’s life dangling between life and death, leaving Lama with some tough decisions to make.

Good tiger news from Nepal


This 2017 video is called Land of Tigers – Bardia National Park, Nepal

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Number of wild tigers in Nepal almost doubled

Nepal seems to be the first country where the number of wild tigers has doubled. The countries with wild tigers agreed on this objective in 2010. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has announced that the number of tigers in Nepal has increased from 121 to about 235 since 2009.

In 2010 there were only 3200 wild tigers. In order to prevent the extinction of the animals, the thirteen countries where the tigers still occur then agreed to double the number before 2022, according to the Chinese calendar, the year of the tiger. Nepal now seems to be the first country to achieve the so-called Tx2 target.

“Protecting tigers has the highest priority for the government”, says the Nepalese Ministry of Forests and the Environment. “Our commitment to the global tiger program will only grow as the populations in Nepal grow and our measures work out well.”

Among the other countries that have joined the Tx2 project are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

‘Extinct’ hare rediscovered in Nepal


This 2017 video is called Hispid hare or Assam rabbit digging burrow for young ones.

From ScienceDaily:

Small mammal thought to be extinct rediscovered in Nepal‘s national park

March 15, 2018

The hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus) is in the list of critically endangered small mammals. It was thought to be extinct from Chitwan National Park as it had not been spotted again after its first spotting in 1984.

Now, there is good news for nature lovers and conservationists. A baby hispid hare was caught on camera by a conservationist in Chitwan National Park, 150 kilometres southwest of Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

“The fact that the hispid hare was a baby indicates that there are also parents and both male and female”, says Bed Khadka, who is a conservation officer at Chitwan National Park.

Khadka has published an article in the journal Conservation Science (CS) detailing his rediscovery of the small rabbit-like species.

“It’s a small mammal species smaller than the regular rabbit and larger than a rat”, Khadka says. “We had taken it to be extinct from the national park as it had not been spotted after 1984.”

The species inhabits the lowlands of Ganges floodplain. Rare sightings have been reported in India and Nepal, but mostly it is not seen. The recent sighting has shown that it has a resurrection possibility and can be conserved.

The present government and international efforts on animal conservation are focused on large mammals like the tiger and rhino with the idea that conservation of large mammals will in turn conserve the ecosystem as a whole and so conserve the small animals too.

“Now I see a need of some programmes to protect some of these small animals too”, says Khadka.

Khadka has been studying a bird called the Bengal Florican for several years and the hispid hare was spotted while studying the Bengal Florican.

The population of the hispid hare is rapidly declining due to anthropogenic pressure and grassland fire. In protected areas in Nepal, grassland burning is used as a management tool by park authorities to create new grass shoots for grazing animals.

“Until now, we cannot predict downstream effects of current grassland management, although continuous grassland burning in protected areas might become a possible threat to rare hispid hares,” says Khadka.

“Therefore, further study about their presence-absence, population status needs to be done throughout the grassland of the low land of Nepal including the newly rediscovered park”, he adds.

Disclaimer: Research published in journals hosted on the NepJOL platform is selected by the journals in accordance with their own editorial processes and criteria. INASP and Tribhuvan University Central Library provide hosting and guidance on good practices but are not involved in selection of research.

Award for helping Nepalese vultures, farmers


This video says about itself:

Vulture (Jatayu) Restaurant and Conservation Approach in Nepal-BCN Documentary

9 June 2015

Vultures play a highly important ecological role through the rapid consumption of animal carcasses. They also have an important cultural role in the consumption of human dead bodies in sky burials within Nepal and Tibet.

Out of nine species of vultures, five species of vultures in Asia are in grave danger of extinction across the Indian subcontinent. Populations of White-rumped Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed G. indicus and Slender-billed Vultures G. tenuirostris have declined by more than 99% in India (Prakash et al. 2003; Pain et al. 2004) and Pakistan and annual rates of decline appear to be increasing. Further two more species of vultures, Red-headed Vulture and Egyptian Vulture have rapidly declined in the recent years (Cuthbert et al. 2006). Due to these declines, all five species are now listed threatened by IUCN – The International Union for Conservation of Nature. Except Egyptian Vulture which is listed as Endangered all other four are listed as Critically Endangered which is the highest threat category. In Nepal White-rumped Vultures have been declined over 91% till 2003 (Baral et al. 2004) and declined by 91% till 2011 (Chaudhary et al. 2011).

The cause of these declines has been shown to be the veterinary drug diclofenac (Oaks et al. 2004, Swarup et al. 2007), which is widely used to treat livestock in Asia. Vultures are exposed to diclofenac by feeding on livestock carcasses which contain residues of this drug. A post-mortem examination of dead or dying birds from India and Nepal showed a high incidence of diclofenac residues and visceral gout (Shultz et al. 2004). The result of mathematical modeling is consistent with the observed rate of population decline. Models indicate that only a small proportion (1 in 130) of carcasses contaminated with lethal levels of diclofenac can cause the observed vulture mortality rate (Green et al. 2004).

In order to halt the decline of these critically endangered birds, Government of Nepal put ban on production, import and use of veterinary diclofenac in June 2006 and endorsed Vulture Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2009-13) in 2009. Vulture Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2009-2013) is a part of the greater effort of the Government of Nepal to conserve and consolidate the conservation initiatives for all vulture species found in Nepal. The main objective of Vulture Conservation Action Plan is to prevent the extinction of vulture species by ensuring re-introduction, safe food supply, maintenance of suitable habitat and better understanding of the ecological importance of these birds in Nepal with a goal to revive viable population of vultures in the wild. Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre was established on 2008 in partnership of Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN).

Bird Conservation Nepal has been supporting this Vulture Conservation Action Plan through integrated approach to conserve vultures in Nepal which involves scientific research, advocacy, sensitization, monitoring the use of NSAIDs, the collection of veterinarian pledges to stop using diclofenac and the operation of six vulture safe feeding sites. Within this line BCN has initiated projects under Vulture Conservation Programme. Under these projects a range of conservation action including in-situ and ex-situ measures has been implemented to support Vulture Conservation Programme.

From BirdLife:

9 Jan 2018

Award for vulture restaurant pioneer whose work helps poor farmers

This 2017 Nature’s Hero, nominated by Bird Conservation Nepal, pioneered safe feeding areas which have led to the beginning of a recovery in populations of threatened vultures.

By Nick Langley

One of BirdLife’s 2017 Nature’s Heroes nominated by Bird Conservation Nepal pioneered safe feeding areas which have led to the beginning of a recovery in populations of threatened vultures, and are being replicated elsewhere on the Sub-continent. The work he began is now helping with the conservation of grassland birds and mammals, delivering sustainable livelihoods to communities including excluded castes, and providing a happy (and eventually useful) retirement and death for cows which have reached the ends of their productive lives.

Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary is a community leader, and coordinator of Nepal’s first community-managed Vulture Safe Feeding Site (popularly known as the Jatayu Vulture Restaurant) which was established in 2006 in Pithauli, Nawalparasi.

Bird Conservation Nepal and the local people of the Namuna Community Forest User Groups pioneered the idea of vulture safe feeding sites in response to the catastrophic decline of formerly common vulture species because of the widespread contamination of cattle carcasses with the veterinary drug diclofenac. The Jatayu restaurant provides safe food close to an existing vulture breeding colony.

Since the beginning, in collaboration with Bird Conservation Nepal, Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary, a life member of the BirdLife Partner Organisation, has led the Jatayu Restaurant Management Committee. The committee arranges to collect old and unproductive cattle from the nearby villages, and takes them to a Cow Rescue Centre, where they are looked after. Following their natural deaths, their carcasses are laid out for vultures at the Jatayu restaurant.

A Vulture Information Centre, and a hide from which feeding vultures can be viewed, attract visitors, and spread knowledge of the importance of vultures in maintaining a healthy environment, free of decaying carcasses and associated infections and pests such as feral dogs. In addition to conserving vultures, the vulture restaurant provides sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism. Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary has played key role in promoting ecotourism integrated with the culture of local indigenous people and the biodiversity of the area.

“In rural Nepal, a popular pastime for many young boys was playing with homemade catapults, becoming such good shots that they injured and killed many birds”, explains BCN’s Krishna Prasad Bhusal. “In his teenage years, Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary encouraged the boys in his community to put down their catapults, and offered them an alternative. Instead of shooting birds, learn about them. In time they too became interested and passionate about the bird species found in their neighbourhood. They even started bringing injured and sick birds they had found, and together they treated them as best they could and released them back where they found them.”

Now grown up, Chaudhary and his friends have established a Community Learning Centre where students and other people can come and expand their knowledge about vulture conservation, sustainability and wildlife ecology. “At times it has been a struggle to get everyone on board, but now we feel in a positive and united place for biodiversity conservation,” Krishna Prasad Bhusal says.

The success of the Jatayu venture has inspired other Nepali communities to establish vulture restaurants, in Gaidahawa, Rupendehi, Lalmatiya and Bijauri of Dang, Khutiya, Kailali, Ghachok, Kaski and Ramdhuni, and Sunsari. “All these restaurant sites have shown a positive result, with increases in vulture numbers, and have spread the message of vulture conservation.”

Over 217 vultures have been counted around a single carcass at one time. Between 2007 and 2010, Bird Conservation Nepal recorded a 150% increase in the populations of four globally threatened vultures species, and nesting by White-rumped Vulture in the area has increased by over 200%. This achievement was formally recognised in 2010, when the work was awarded the prestigious WWF Abraham Conservation Award. Vulture-safe restaurants are now being replicated elsewhere on the Subcontinent, including in India and Pakistan.

The community involved in the Jatayu scheme have also cleared invasive plant species from around the site, resulting in the regeneration of grasses, which is helping the conservation of the Critically Endangered Bengal Florican, and provided improved habitat for other birds and large herbivorous mammals including deer and rhino. More recently they have been developing conservation initiatives within wetland areas, focused on improving wildlife habitats. “Rhinos, spotted deer, barking deer, peacocks and thrushes all need grasslands for their survival” says Krishna Prasad Bhusal. “If the grasslands are healthy and full of prey, the tiger will come to the grasslands to hunt.”

The Jatayu Restaurant initiative benefits humans and domestic animals as well as wildlife.

The ethnic Tharu community and the surrounding villages are predominately of the Hindu faith, and so consider their cattle holy. Since they cannot be used for meat, they are kept until they die a natural death, which takes up valuable farming space, and drains resources and money from the already impoverished families. The Jatayu Restaurant buys the old and dying cattle for 250-NRS a head. They are then housed and fed in the specially designed Cow Hospice in the grasslands of the Community Forest, until they die naturally.

“The beauty of this project is that, simply, it benefits everyone”, explains Krishna Prasad Bhusal.

“Low-income farming families have the pressure of keeping an ailing cow removed and receive money towards their next cow, while the vultures benefit by having a frequent food source in a safe, protected environment. Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary has developed a working relationship with men and women from the excluded Mushahar caste on a number of riverine grassland and wetland management initiatives in the Namuna Buffer Zone Community Forest. Activities such as these not only provide a source of livelihood for local communities, but also make them more receptive to the principles of biodiversity conservation.”

Dumrithumka Adarsh Mahila—their name translates, roughly, as “the exemplary women of Dumrithumka”. The improvements to health and living standards they have brought about have inspired neighbouring forest villages to follow their example. At the same time, the transformation of habitat quality in the forests they manage has led Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) to recognise them as BirdLife Nature’s Heroes: here.

Captive-reared vultures freed in Nepal


This video says about itself:

Vulture Release Nepal, Krishna Bhusal. On the 9th of November this year Bird Conservation Nepal, working as part of the SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) consortium, released six captive-reared white-rumped vultures

they can be recognised by the yellow plastic tags on their wings

into the wild, in a conservation first for South Asia.

Read more here.

Vulture recovery in Nepal?


This 2912 video is called Vulture Study Video of Arghakhanchi, Nepal. By Krishna Prasad Bhusal and Hemanta Dhakal.

From BirdLife:

8 Nov 2017

Captive-reared Critically Endangered vultures soon to be released in Nepal

Conservationists are making great progress in removing vulture-killing drug diclofenac from Nepal, with vulture populations stabilising as a result. Now, in this safer environment, it’s almost time for six captive-reared White-rumped Vultures to venture out into the wild.

By Shaun Hurrell

South Asian vultures have famously suffered devastating population declines in recent decades. For example, 99.9% of White-rumped Vultures Gyps bengalensis were wiped out between 1992 and 2007. This was due to the use of diclofenac: an anti-inflammatory drug given to reduce pain in livestock, but deadly to vultures that subsequently feed on their carcasses. A ban on veterinary diclofenac in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006 and Bangladesh in 2010 has allowed vulture populations to stabilise and possibly start to recover in some areas.

However, five of South Asia’s nine vulture species remain Endangered or Critically Endangered; the misuse of human diclofenac to treat livestock, as well as the use of other vulture-toxic veterinary drugs, continues to threaten some South Asian vulture populations with extinction. BirdLife Partners are changing that, through a combination of advocacy, legislation and education.

Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN, BirdLife Partner), with the support of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK), have been working hard to rid Nepal of diclofenac. “We started by going around shops in Nawalparasi district, buying pharmacists out of large bottles of diclofenac, whilst offering the safe alternative (meloxicam) and raising awareness of the vulture declines”, said Krishna Bhusal, Vulture Conservation Programme Manager, BCN. “Now this district is completely diclofenac-free.”

District by district, from pharmacists’ distributors to farmer’s son, the campaign is on-going, but nearly complete. The aim: a huge multi-district Vulture Safe Zone.

Meanwhile, White-rumped Vultures have been kept in captivity as an insurance population since 2008. Now, with a safer landscape to roam in, BCN and RSPB are gearing up for the first ever release of captive vultures in South Asia.

Six captive-reared vultures fitted with satellite transmitters are currently exercising their wings in a pre-release aviary near Chitwan National Park, socialising through the wire with wild vultures that are fed at one of the programme’s Vulture Safe Feeding Sites. Later this year, the door will be left open in what will be a huge milestone for the species’ recovery in Nepal.

India’s Critically Endangered vulture populations seemed to be stabilising, but a new study has revealed that numbers may be even fewer than we thought. Although vulture-killing livestock drug diclofenac has been banned, there are other drugs, equally fatal to vultures, that have not – and this is thought to be the main cause: here.

Nepalese birds, new book


This video says about itself:

NEPAL – PART 1: THE BIRDS OF POKHARA

BLUE-THROATED BARBET (Megalaima asiatica), RED VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer), ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE (Zosterops palpebrosus) and others.

From BirdLife:

National Red List book for Nepal’s birds published and online

By Ed Parnell, Wed, 09/03/2016 – 23:09

A new publication that features the first assessment of Nepal’s birdlife based on IUCN Red List criteria was launched recently at an event at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The six-volume publication is now also freely available online as an invaluable conservation reference.

The Status of Nepal’s Birds: The National Red List Series contains detailed accounts of more than 800 species that regularly occur in the country, as well as maps showing distribution changes since 1990.

The study was led by Carol Inskipp and Hem Sagar Baral, with additional contributions from 10 other authors. There are images provided by 140 photographers, and bird records submitted by many local people. More than 20 Nepalese government departments and NGOs, including Bird Conservation Nepal (BirdLife in Nepal) also contributed to the impressive collaborative effort.

The six-volume, 3000-page book is published by ZSL.

“This study has been undertaken to assess for the first time the national conservation status of Nepal’s birds, and in particular to identify those species that are threatened with extinction in the country. Such an assessment is vital in order to guide conservation activities in the country,” said Richard Grimmett, BirdLife International’s Director of Conservation.

Almost 20% of Nepal’s birds (167 species) could soon be lost from the country, including 37 species that are threatened on a global scale. A further 62 species are near-threatened nationally, and nine species have not been recorded in Nepal since the 19th century.

Lowland grassland specialists are the most threatened group of birds with 55% of species threatened, followed by wetland birds (25%) and tropical and subtropical broad-leaved forest birds (24%).

Of particular note, is the importance of Nepal for the following globally threatened species, which have important populations in the country: