Birds are the best studied vertebrate group in the Himalayas or in the world. These are found in good numbers in the region but at the same time, have been also threatened to extinction because of multitude of problems. In areas where we need support, we work with other bird conservation organizations in the region.
Raptor Studies in Nepal
Himalayan Nature proposes to do the long term study of migrating raptors, including several critically endangered vulture species, in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in central-west Nepal. Monitoring of regional populations from a “watch site” is an effective means to assess population trends for a number of species. We identify, count, and whenever possible, age and sex migrants on an hourly basis beginning in each September through December. Since the early 1980s, only a handful of partial season counts have been completed at this location, and estimates have ranged from 10,000 to 40,000 Steppe Eagles migrating here each autumn, as well as 15 to 30 different raptor species also using this route. Our study identified total of 37 migrating raptor species with approximately 15,000 individuals use this corridor during autumn migration. Much remains to be discovered about trans-Himalayan migration that this study will address in the coming years.
Many of the migrating raptors including large number of Himalayan Vultures Gyps himalayensis overwinter in the lowland areas of Nepal. To access the population trend of those wintering raptors we also proposes the wintering raptors survey throughout the lowland belt of Nepal.
Vulture Conservation Program
Out of 9 species of vulture recorded in the Indian subcontinent including Nepal; 5 species are listed as globally endangered due to rapid (>95%) population decline within one decade after early 1990s. Scientific studies proved that the use of veterinary drug Diclofenac to treat livestock is a main cause behind this decline. Livestock carcass is the main source of food in south Asia and vultures get exposed to diclofenac by feeding on livestock carcasses which contain residues of this drug. In order to halt the problems on vulture decline several conservation activities has been initiated throughout the vulture ranges. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and surrounding area in the eastern Nepal supports an isolated breeding colony of critically endangered White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis which is the only know breeding colony in the eastern Nepal after Nawalparasi district which is approximately 600 km far. Since last several years we are working for the conservation of globally endangered vultures in Koshi. Our vulture conservation program emphasize the community participation on conservation so that most of the conservation activities are led by the community peoples with support from the experts of Himalayan Nature.
For the conservation of critically endangered vulture species we have started to operate community managed vulture restaurant since 2013, which is situated in the premise of Ramdhuni forest, Mahendranagar VDC-9, Salbani. Beside the Vulture Restaurant we conduct interactive education and awareness programs to the school students, local peoples and veterinary technicians, workshops and sensitization programs to discourage the use of diclofenac and other non-tested NSAIDs, promotion of safe alternative meloxicam and development/distribution of educational/promotional materials on different aspects of vulture. We also monitor vulture population, roosting and nesting colonies of vulture around Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve.
Critically endangered Bengal Florican in Koshi Tappu
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis is one of the most threatened bird of the world. The species has restricted distribution within the Indian subcontinent extending southeast to parts of Cambodia and Vietnam. The population of the species is being monitored in Nepal since 1982. The most recent study on the species shows a precipitous decline in its population, even for a species mainly confined to protected areas. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and adjoining areas had been omitted in previous surveys mainly because the area was considered not to hold any significant number of the species. Opportunistic surveys in April and May 2011 indicated that there is a comeback of this species in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and the adjoining riverine grasslands. As many as 12 pairs were estimated.
Status and Conservation of Tern species in Koshi River Basin, Nepal
We have been carrying out Tern survey to find out the current status and conservation of Tern species at Koshi River Basin. Among wetland birds, tern species are declining in number and are listed as critically endangered in national status of threatened species of Nepal. This project will update the current population status, potential threats and conservation status of tern species in Koshi River Basin through direct counting, questionnaire survey along with conservation awareness activities about the ecological importance of water birds and their conservation.
Farmland Bird Study
We have conducted several education and awareness programs in Lumbini for the conservation of wildlife that lives in the farmland habitats. BirdLife International identified Lumbini area as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Furthermore, the area is within the Terai Arc Landscape and Conservation International’s Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund has also identified the area as priority site for conservation.
We are continuing the survey of farmland bird species in Lumbini and Koshi since last few years. A total of 148 species of bird was recorded from the surveyed farmlands representing 59 bird Families. The most frequent and the most abundant bird was Common Myna followed by Black Drongo, Cattle Egret and Asian Pied Starling. Intensification of farming practices, such as the loss of crop diversity, destruction of grasslands and excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers, has led to the degradation of agricultural and semi-natural habitats, and causing declines in biodiversity across huge areas. Therefore, it conducted education and awareness programs on pesticides and on the importance of farmland biodiversity to our livelihood and overall ecosystems.
In matters of birds and their habitats, we work with Nepalese Ornithological Union