Himalayan Frogs Conservation Initiative in Nepal

The frogs of Nepal’s Himalayan region are under significant pressure from climate change, habitat loss and because they are hunted and eaten by local people.  In addition, the historical focus of conservation efforts in Nepal has been on large iconic mammalian species such as tiger, rhinoceros and elephant.  A clear conservation focus is required for Nepal’s frogs, particularly in the mountain areas, where the effects of climate change are most extreme.   This clear focus is prevented by a lack of understanding of the kinds of frogs present in the area, their relationships to one another and their relationships to groups outside of Nepal. It is likely that there are several species of frogs present in this region which have not yet been recognized.  Without knowing which species are present, or how they are related to other groups, it is difficult to establish meaningful conservation approaches for species.

The overarching goals of this project to understand and establish knowledge gaps on Himalayan frog species of Nepal. This project will use integrative approaches such genetics, morphomtrics and bio-acoustics to identify different species, to establish a clear understanding of the relationships among a particular group of frogs present across Nepal’s Himalayan region.  We will also explore hunting pressures on frog species.  

Ecological assessment of endemic skink species in central Nepal

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.

Supported by: Nagao Natural Environment Foundation

https://www.nagaofoundation.or.jp/e/

Conservation and Ecology of Critically Endangered Dark Sitana (Sitana fusca) in Nepal

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.

Supported by : The Rufford Foundation, UK

Ecology and Conservation of Common Leopard (Panthera Pardus)

Need for Human-Leopard Co-existence in and around Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal.

Project highlight

Principal investigator: Saurav Lamichhane

Location: Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal

Grant support: The Rufford Foundation

Team members: Tank Rawal, Kabita Das

Nepal’s mid-hill ecosystem includes a top predator, the leopard, and a significant source of human-wildlife conflict. To put successful conflict management strategies into practice, it is crucial to have every aspect of information about conflict species. This project is a continuation of previous Rufford work. Understanding the social, as well as ecological dimension of human-wildlife conflict is important for effective conflict management strategies. In the first Rufford grant, our study was entailed mainly to understand the social dimension of HLC along with conservation awareness activities in local community. In this project, our major focus will be identifying the ecological correlates such as occupancy and diet composition of conflict species.

The following objectives guide the project:

  1. Information on common leopard occupancy and associated covariates will be obtained.
  2. The diet composition of the common leopard will be understood, thereby the livestock contribution in the diet as well.
  3. Knowledge of local herders on leopard conservation and HLC mitigation measures will be improved.
  4. School children will be made aware on leopard conservation and conflict mitigation measures.
  5. Findings of the project will be disseminated to the conservation authorities with far-reaching implications for the conservation of common leopards in the area.

The project’s findings are anticipated to contribute to more efficient efforts in reducing HLC and fostering coexistence between humans and leopards. Moreover, the conservation awareness program to the local herders and school children and knowledge gap addressed by this project will be crucial for better human-leopard co-existence in the area. To sum up, this research project will be crucial for the conservation of common leopards in the area. The data obtained will be crucial for conservation authorities to effectively plan conflict management strategies, and in particular to increase the knowledge and awareness among the local herders on leopard conservation while minimizing the conflict.

Project link :

Rusty-Spotted-Cat-Conservation

Rusty-Spotted Cat Conservation initiatives in Western Terai Landscape, Nepal

Project Highlight

Principal Investigator: Dipendra Adhikari

Location: Shuklaphanta National Park, its buffer zone and adjoining forests in Sudoorpaschim Province.

Grant Support: Panthera’s Small Cat Action Fund 

Team:

Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is the smallest wild cat in the world. It is categorized as Vulnerable in IUCN Red List.  Among 12 other wild cat species in Nepal; it is sympatric with large carnivores in both Protected and non-protected forests in Nepal’s Terai. This species in Nepal needs conservation and research attention. According to the IUCN Assessment information (2016), the current population is decreasing and there is no clear estimate of how many rusty-spotted cats are thriving in the wild. With support from Panthera’s the Small Cat Action Fund, this project will be implemented in Sudoorpaschim Province primarily on buffer zone community forest of Shuklaphanta National Park including national forest patches of Kanchanpur district. The project area lies at the far west plain of Nepal.

The project’s goal is to sensitize communities of buffer zone and people living in the edge of national forests to conserve Rusty spotted cat and their habitats. The key activities of the projects are:

  1. Biological monitoring of Rusty-spotted cat: recording indirect signs questionnaire survey, focus group discussion will be deployed across strategic locations and will be extensively surveyed in hotspot area.
  2. Threats identification: Threats include habitat loss and degradation, depletion of natural prey base, competition with other large carnivores such as tigers, leopards, and golden jackals.
  3. Conservation outreach: Interaction programs with local people, forest and park officials, Community Forest Users, journalists and security personnel about status, distribution, threats, and role of rusty spotted cat in

Himalayan Salamander Conservation Project

Project Highlight

Name: Salamander Conservation Project

Location: Eastern Nepal

Target: Salamander, Local communities

Team: Bivek   & Santosh

Himalayan Salamander (Tylototriton himalayanus) is a lizard like amphibian species found only in eastern Nepal and Darjeeling region of India. The Himalayan Salamander is the only species of Salamander found in Nepal. Although it appears like lizard, it lacks scales on its body. The occurrence of Himalayan salamander outside of Protected Area Network where conservation actions for lesser-known species such as Himalayan salamander is a major survival challenge.

Himalayan Salamander in eastern Nepal is facing multiple threats such as introduction of exotic fishes on its habitats (i.e., natural ponds), modification of its habitat into picnic spots or
recreation sites are some visible threats among many others. Due to very few conservation interventions in eastern Nepal; many people are ignorant about the ecological, biological and survival importance of Himalayan salamander. The local extirpation of Himalayan salamander will make us lose an amphibian order from Nepal. Realizing the immediate conservation need of Himalayan Salamander; Nepal conservation and Research Center (NCRC) and Biodiversity Research and Conservation Society (BRCS) have initiated community-based Himalayan salamander conservation project in Nepal. The project aims to outreach various levels of stakeholders such as women; local leaders, farmers and school/college students and help them understand the ecological significance of the only caudate found in Nepal. The project will also gather ecological information of Himalayan salamander in Nepal. Nepal Conservation and Research Center.

Biodiversity Resource Inventory

Project Highlight

Name: Biodiversity Resource Inventory

Location: Dhankuta

Target: Herpetofauna, Orchids , Medicinal   & aromatic Plants (MAPs)

Team: Bivek , Rijan  & Santosh

Biodiversity is the totality of life forms in an area with specified time. The biodiversity in Nepal continues to decline at alarming rate specially outside of the Protected Area systems. Biodiversity inventory and documentation are mostly confined to Protected Area Networks and focused on large charismatic mammalian species. The Biodiversity Resource Inventory (BRI) is a collaborative project between Nepal Conservation and Research Center (NCRC) and Biodiversity Research and Conservation Society (BRCS) Nepal. The BRI project will be implemented at Chaubise Rural Municipality, Dhankuta, Nepal and will assess lesser prioritized taxa of fauna and flora. The BRI will focus on cataloguing herpetofauna, orchids and medicinal plants as pilot project. It will provide baseline information of amphibians and reptiles as well as orchids and medicinal plants of Chaubise Rural Municipality area. The findings from BRI will help making future management decisions, identify research and management needs and resolve taxonomic impediment. Nepal Conservation and Research Center.