Nepal Raptor Conservation Program

©Tulsi Subedi

As apex-aerial predators, raptors are an effective indicator of ecosystem health providing vital ecosystem services such as rapid carcass disposal and biological control of rodent and avian pests. In Nepal, raptors also have aesthetic, religious and cultural value e.g. sky burials practice in the northern region and vultures as the form of Jatayu, the heroic characters in Ramayana. Out of 321 species of daytime active raptors in the world, Nepal is home to 60 species including vultures, eagles, hawks and falcons. A recent status assessment has shown 18% of raptor species in the world are on the verge of extinction and additional 52% species are declining. The number of raptors frequenting Nepal is declining, with 47% (n = 28) species as nationally threatened and additionally 7% (n = 4) near-threatened. Because of globally an important landmark of raptors, out of 10 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) that hold the highest number of threatened raptor species in the world, six occur in Nepal.

However, in recent years, anthropogenic activities including agriculture, deforestation, hunting/trapping, poisoning, electrocution/collision with powerlines have emerged as the most prominent threats to raptors. A study on species' abundance and the threat is critical and highly recommended for 42% of the world’s raptors, primarily in the Old World. In this scenario, Himalayan Nature would like to announce the establishment of “Nepal Raptor Conservation Program”. This program will work dynamically on several aspects of raptor research and conservation. Team Raptor, will be established under this program for capacity building and networking, nationwide raptor monitoring, conducting conservation projects on mitigating potential threats and also inform planners/decision-makers for the protection of critical sites for the survival of Nepal’s raptors. 

In the past, Himalayan Nature has collaborated with Nepalese Ornithological Union to implement bird-related projects in various parts of Nepal and we intend to work with several provincial bird /wildlife conservation organisations on this matter.

Currently, we are working on:

a. Community Managed Vulture Conservation Project in Ramdhuni Community Forest, eastern Nepal.

b. Nepal Raptor Migration Project at Thoolakharka, Kaski, Nepal.

c. Movement Study of Indian Spotted Eagle using GPS satellite transmitter.

d. Distribution, Movement and Breeding Ecology of Mountain Hawk Eagle.

e. Tracking the movement of Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis in Nepal.

f. Mapping abundance of threats to raptors in western Nepal.

g. Identification and mitigation of the main threats impacting threatened Bearded Vultures in their core ranges of Nepal.

h.  Conserving the Indian Spotted Eagle (Clanga hastata) in Lowlands of Nepal.

i. Identifying potential threats to Mountain Hawk Eagle using movement information in central west Nepal. 

Nepal Raptor Conservation Program is supported by The Peregrine Fund, Korea Institute of Environment Ecology, The Peregrine Fund- Wageningen University & Research Partnership, The Rufford Foundation, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Taiwan Forestry Bureau, Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Oriental Bird Club/March Conservation Fund, Kenya Birds of Prey Trust and North Star Science and Technology.

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