We printed 1000 copies of Dark sitana poster for conservation outreach in schools and communities in Dark sitana range sites. During our school and community sessions, we taught conservation importance of Dark sitana and other reptiles of the region. We also distributed a copy of the poster to the session attendees. We also circulated our photographs of our outreach sessions in social media. We received overwhelming responses for poster and session requests within Dark sitana range and beyond Dark sitana range where other species of sitana are found. Due to high demand of poster and session requests in schools and communities, we are printing again 1000 copies of the same poster.
Dark sitana “conservation poster” contest was announced at our social media platform herpsNEPAL. A total 22 contestants designed and submitted the poster. The idea of the photo contest was to make members of herpsNEPAL aware about Dark sitana and get better poster design insights. Among all the contestants, two winners (Ms Shreeya Manandhar and Sanej Prsad Suwal) were selected as the best poster designers. The best poster designers were awarded with Dark sitana conservation T-shirt. Ms Shreeya Manandhar is a postgraduate student of Kathmandu University and Mr. Sanej Prasad Suwal is affiliated to NCSC- an NGO based in Kathmandu.
The Himalayan region is a biodiversity hotspot with a unique biogeography that has influenced the diversification of many taxa. Three endemic skinks (family: Scincidae) were discovered in central Nepal: Mahabharat skink (Ablepharus mahabharatus), Nepal skink (Ablepharus nepalensis) and large ground skink (Scincella capitanea). Information on their distribution, population abundance, habitat use and resource partitioning with sympatric species is lacking.
Reptiles are susceptible to environmental and anthropogenic changes and have limited dispersal capabilities. They are particularly sensitive to habitat modifications and climate change, both of which are occurring rapidly in the Himalayan and hilly regions of Nepal. No dedicated study on Nepalese endemic skinks has occurred. This project will fill a knowledge gap by conducting ecological assessments to provide details on current distribution, habitat use and micro habitat selection, population abundance and threats impacting the survival of these endemic skinks to inform conservation strategies.
Every year world wildlife day is celebrated on 03 March to commemorate the conservation efforts. Nepal Conservation and Research Center (NCRC) and Mithila Wildlife Trust (MWT) jointly marked the day in Madhesh province, Nepal with two different activities for Dark sitana (Sitana fusca) conservation aligning the theme of world wildlife day “Partnership for conservation” among women group and school students.
The Dark sitana (Sitana fusca) is a critically endangered lizard endemic to Nepal, so far only known from Madhesh province of Nepal. Therefore, to raise awareness on ecological and conservation importance of Drak sitana, we conducted an awareness session for peri-forest women group of Dudhpani community forest, Dhanusha. We also explored the local names and beliefs to respect the indigenous perceptions towards reptiles. We presented slides and video session whether they are aware of the presence of Dark sitana in their community forest or not. We distributed a copy of printed poster of Dark sitana to the participants of the session.
Session with students
We also marked world wildlife day with students at Mahadev Adharbhoot school to imprint conservation importance of Dark sitana and other wildlife in young minds. We found students were very keen and inquisitive to learn about biodiversity around them. We displayed the video of Dark sitana and other wildlife and presented about their behaviour, ecological significance and how students could be the part of the larger conservation arena.
Nepal is home to three species of sitana lizards, namely Shuklaphanta sitana (Sitana schleichi), Sivalik sitana (Sitana sivalensis) and the Dark sitana (Sitana fusca) belonging to family Agamidae. Among these three species, the Dark sitana is an endemic lizard listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In Nepal, Dark sitana is known only from Madhesh Province; and the type specimen was found in Bardibas, in Madhesh Province. The Bardibas area is growing rapidly as a transit point, connecting Madhesh province to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. The ongoing expansion and urban development of the Bardibas area is a major conservation challenge for the species. Moreover, ecological information (such as abundance, distribution, and threats) and the natural history of this lizard are poorly understood. Very few conservation organizations are working in the area and even fewer are aware of the existence of the species and its critical conservation status.
This project will generate ecological data including distribution, abundance, habitat characteristics and identification of key threats. This information will set a baseline for long term monitoring and inform the development of a conservation strategy. In addition, a conservation outreach component of the project will raise the profile of this species among key stakeholders and local communities, improving conservation outcomes for Dark sitana. Key outputs will include occurrence maps showing conservation sensitive zones and site-specific conservation measures. Conservation outreach activities will raise awareness of and develop support for Dark sitana conservation. This will drive behaviour change to reduce activities which impact Dark sitana, including the use of intentional fire in Dark sitana habitat.