Himalayan park authorities fear vulnerability of wildlife and step up vigilance

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By Vishal Gulati

Kullu, November 28 (SocialNews.XYZ) As the presence of the highly endangered and elusive Western Tragopan Pheasant is now particularly felt in the Great Himalayan National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site in the north west of the Himalayas, the number of which is multiplying, in addition to a multitude of species of avifauna and native mammals, the park authorities fear for their vulnerability in winter.


Himachal Pradesh Wildlife Wing staff have started working overtime to protect the species from poachers, largely local.

The park’s Himalayan ranges are also home to a good population of snow leopards which move on a large scale, with most of its sightings reported at lower elevations outside of protected areas in search of prey in winter.

Officials involved in the anti-poaching exercise told IANS that camera trapping devices were installed in at least 50 locations.

Camera trap deployment teams comprising local youth and more than 30 frontline forestry department staff have been trained in this exercise.

The Great Himalayan National Park, notified in 1999, is home to 203 species of birds, including the western tragopan, Himalayan monal, koklas, white crested kalij and cheer, all species of pheasants.

One of the richest biodiversity sites in the Western Himalayas, the park is home to the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan brown and black bear, Himalayan blue sheep, Asian ibex. , red fox, weasel and yellow-throated marten.

Small mammals include the gray shrew, a small mouse-like mammal with a long snout, the royal mountain vole, the Indian pika, the Indian giant flying squirrel, the porcupine, and the Himalayan palm civet.

Starting at an elevation of 1,700 meters, the park’s highest peak approaches 5,800 meters.

The park, completely untouched by any road network, has four valleys: Tirthan, Sainj, Jiwa Nal and Parvati.

Its eco-zone has 160 villages and hamlets, while the boundaries are connected to Pin Valley National Park, Rupi-Bhawa Wildlife Sanctuary and Kanawar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wildlife officials told IANS that with the harsh winter freezing water resources and wiping out food sources, herds of wild hoofed mammals are starting to move to lower elevations. Other forms of wild animals, mainly predators, follow them.

Migration of the Asian ibex – a species of wild goat – and the Himalayan blue sheep or “bharal” in the Lahaul, Spiti and Pine valleys is common.

Deputy park ranger Roshan Chaudhary told IANS that camera trapping devices are being installed at 50 sites in the central area of ​​the park to catch poachers.

He said a team of 32 frontline staff would be deployed to patrol the park, especially in sensitive areas like Shakti and Rolla.

“We have mapped the migration of mammals. Involving the local population helps to gather intelligence and protect the animals,” he said.

In winter, migratory workers in the park’s ecozone pose a potential threat to wildlife.

“Most workers find themselves out of work in the winter as construction slows down. As they run out of money, they turn to hunting to feed themselves and their families,” a senior park official admitted. on condition of anonymity, at IANS.

“The peak of winter is when our staff are working overtime to keep an eye out for poachers,” he said.

The ban on wearing a cap with a monal pheasant crest, once a tradition in the upper parts of Himachal Pradesh, especially on auspicious occasions, has gone a long way in reducing its poaching in the park, he said. he adds.

“The sighting of bharal (Himalayan blue sheep) in my field has now increased,” Tashi Dolma, a villager from the Spiti Valley, told IANS by telephone.

With the severe weather in the heights, their herd could be common here, she said, adding that “even sightings of red fox and common fox have increased in villages.”

Villagers say snow leopard attacks on livestock increase in winter.

“Every day you can hear about the killing of a pet dog or a lamb by a snow leopard in our village in winter,” said another villager Naresh Bodh.

Studies conducted by the Department of Wildlife indicate the density of the snow leopard ranging from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 km² in the transhimalayan regions of Spiti, Pin Valleys and Upper Kinnaur while recording the highest densities. high, both predator and prey, mainly blue sheep and ibex.

These areas are populated mainly by Buddhists, who keep sheep and goats.

With the inclusion of the Sainj and Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuaries, the total area, known as the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, is 1,171 km².

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

Source: IANS

Himalayan park authorities fear vulnerability of wildlife and step up vigilance

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