Indian tiger reserve on path to revival with discovery of three additional species

August 9, 2013, WWF
Small diversion hydropower plants are now diverted from the Ivano-Frankivsk region in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Credit: WWF-DCP

Evidence of three more species has been found in the once-neglected Valmiki Tiger Reserve in north east India during the past two months.

A crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva), a yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) and a Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) were captured by camera traps placed by the Bihar Forest Department, WWF-India and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

These are in addition to a hoary-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus) previously photographed by WTI.

"Over the last two months, we have discovered three new species only with the help of these camera traps. None of these four, including the squirrel, were mentioned in the latest faunal records published by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), which mentions 53 species of mammals," said Santosh Tiwari, Field Director of the Tiger Reserve.

"These discoveries only go on to prove that the once neglected reserve is on a revival path with the joint activities by the Forest Department and NGOs in association with the communities who have been proactively contributing to this," said Dr Samir Kumar Sinha, WTI's Regional Head for Bihar.

The camera trapping by WWF-India was carried out as a part of a monitoring exercise in collaboration with Department of Environment & Forests, Bihar and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Government of India.

Kaunertal and Platzertal valleys in Austria are also threatened by a hydropower project, warns WWF. Credit: Christoph Praxmarer

WWF-India has been working in partnership with the Bihar Forest Department to monitor Valmiki's tigers and with partners in Nepal is implementing a transboundary approach to .

"We are excited by these discoveries, Valmiki has excellent potential for recovery and given its contiguity with the Chitwan National Park in Nepal will be a critical site for undertaking transboundary approaches for tiger conservation. WWF will strengthen its partnership with the management of Valmiki and intensify conservation efforts," said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India.

The tiger monitoring work in Valmiki is part of the larger tiger survey being undertaken in India and Nepal across the entire Terai Arc Landscape for the first time, WWF-India is supporting the government in their efforts to develop Valmiki as a tiger recovery site.

Working with the Forest Department since 2003, WTI's Valmiki Conservation Project helped establish the presence of a viable population of tigers, bringing focus back to this formerly neglected tiger reserve in the mid-2000s.

The Project carries out a comprehensive approach to conservation, including studies on tigers and habitat recovery activities; it is supported by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT).

The project also works with the communities involving them in conservation and reducing their dependence on forest resources, particularly within the villages in the Done valley that forms an incursion into the core of the tiger reserve.

These species have been previously recorded in the neighbouring Chitwan National Park in Nepal, which forms the northern boundary of Valmiki Reserve. The ZSI has recorded 10 species of amphibians, 27 species of reptiles and 75 of insects in Valmiki, including the gaur (Bos gaurus) and the Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus), which are not found in rest of the Terai region in India.

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