The Himalayan region is well known for mammals. While some such as the Tiger and Rhino are well known there are many which are very little known. There is much to be done in the field of mammology. Well known and well protected mammals also continue to decline and new conservation problems emerge. We focus on these mammals to determine the best ways for mammals and humans to live in a harmony.
Red Data List for Mammals of Nepal
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is internationally recognized as the most authoritative inventory of the conservation status of species on a global scale and has been extraordinarily successful at drawing attention to biodiversity loss. This valuable tool provides a replicable protocol for determining the extinction risk of species and has been applied globally. Following the success of the IUCN Red List and the global IUCN Categories and Criteria, there was increasing demand for a procedure to apply the IUCN system at the regional level. In 2003, IUCN published guidelines to assess the conservation status of species at the regional and national level. As conservation planning primarily occurs at the local, national or regional level, it is important to have this information in the form of Regional Red Lists (RRLs) which provide a practical means of assessing species status and translating this information into national policies with effective solutions. Himalayan Nature has supported by providing images and library material to complete this project.
Small Mammals and Bats
Conservation of Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus in east Nepal
Due to the rapid population decline over the last three generations (18 years) the Fishing Cat is listed as “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2008 and in Appendix II of CITES. It is a medium-sized wild cat of the wetlands of South and Southeast Asia. The Fishing Cat is primarily distributed in wetland habitats, which are increasingly being settled, degraded and threatened by commercial fish farming. conversion into agricultural field and other landforms. Populations of the Fishing Cat are declining throughout the species’ range. To date, no scientific study has been carried out to determine its status, distribution and conservation status in Nepal. This first research in Nepal aims to determine the current population and distribution of the Fishing Cat in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR), using camera traps, sign surveys and questionnaire surveys. Besides the research this project also works for the conservation of this species through the interactive education and awareness raising among the local peoples and fisherman around Fishing Cat habitat.
Red Panda Ailurus fulgens Conservation
The Red Panda, or Firefox, is often referred to as the Lesser Panda in deference to the better-known Giant Panda. Red Pandas are generally solitary. Young Red Pandas grow relatively slowly, so they develop extended associations with their mothers that last for over a year and male and female tend to pair during the annual breeding season. The Red Panda’s diet is very unusual for a member of the carnivora and consists mostly of bamboo. Other dietary components include the shoots of Bhaaluchinde and they have been seen feeding on the Baante tree.
Protecting the Red Panda goes hand in hand with protecting its habitat. In the past, the dense root systems and undergrowth of Nepal’s forests could be relied upon to retain moisture and slow water runoff. Recently, however, logging and other forms of forest degradation have upset this balance and sent rich soil cascading down mountainsides with the annual monsoons. Many Nepalese people rely on the Red Panda’s habitat for their survival, and this problem cannot disappear on its own. For example, Langtang National Park in Nepal is considered to be an important area for Red Pandas, but 30,000 people live within and around the park and depend on its resources. The reality is that these people are not opposed to change. Rather, they lack viable economic alternatives. We aim to conserve the Red Panda’s prime habitat and also benefit the surrounding communities.
In matters of Red Panda conservation in Nepal we work closely with Red Panda Network and any support will be highly welcome!
Bat Conservation Program
Himalayan Nature has initiated a bat conservation project in Lumbini and Koshi Tappu. As first part of the program, bat houses were made and put in various places at Lumbini. The places chosen were considered safe from vandals. Some houses were occupied but most were vacant. The design is in a trial phase and we are monitoring the roosting habit of the Indian Fruit Bat in the buffer zone of Koshi Tappu. Most counts have been of over 500 individuals. We have worked closely with Koshi Development and Education Foundation (KODEF), a grassroots organisation working actively to protect Koshi Tappu’s biodiversity including bats. KODEF promotes houses and roost areas for the Greater Asiatic Yellow Bat. A recent feeding flock count yielded more than 100 of these bats.
Among the four species of Pangolin found in Asia, two species occurs in Nepal and are protected by national and international laws. However, they have received very little scientific attention. Locals perceive Pangolin to have magical powers and are considered a great delicacy in Nepal. Importantly, illegal forest exploitation and its trade due to a lack of awareness in rural poverty and non-functional government are threatening Pangolin populations. After the successful study on threatened Pangolin in Lumbini, Chitwan, Balthali and Bhaktapur we have now established and strengthened community based Pangolin conservation area in Taudalchaap community forest, Bahktapur district. The Pangolin conservation project is supported by The Rufford Foundation, Forestry Bureau – Council of Agriculture Taiwan, District Forest Office Bhaktapur, Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation and Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal(FECOFUN) and Taudalchaap Community Forest User Groups.