Conservation in Nepal: Monthly Update: April-May 2014
Hi everybody! Your job, as a volunteer, is really important to us and the Projects-Abroad team from Nepal would like to thank you for all your contributions on behalf of Conservation. April and May have been incredible months. We added four species of butterflies and one species of mammal to our lists as well as many other successes in our patch of paradise high in the beautiful Himalayan Mountains. The pleasant dilemma is what news to bring you first!
This is a very important time of year in the area where we work as the birds coincide their breeding season with the start of the monsoon season and the increase in food availability. Many species of bird have been spotted with their chicks since the breeding season started in May and some fantastic sightings include the Grey bushchat (Saxicola ferreus), Common myna (Acridotheres tristis), Asian barred owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides), Large-billed crow (Corvus macroryhchos) and the Grey-hooded warbler (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos). All these magnificent birds have been confirmed as breeding in our study area.
The bird surveys are carried out all year round by using the MacKinnon listing method and by walking along predetermined routes (Transect method). Several censuses were done to list the resident and summer birds of Ghandruk and we discovered an excellent total of 115 species recorded from 60 MacKinnon Lists completed spending 23 days surveying between January 26, 2014 and May 14, 2014.
There are several spots around Ghandruk where we concentrate our efforts for the butterfly surveys. We use local sites such as “lonely planet”, the temple site, water reservoir, lower Ghandruk and several other different locations in the forest around the village selected as good collection sites for the insects. Butterflies tend to favour forest clearing and edges where there is more light and hence more food in the form of nectar available to them. The butterfly survey operates in two different periods during the year; from March to May and September to beginning of December.
The main objective is to catalogue the species butterflies within a 10km radius of Ghandruk Village. The methodology is called fix point method whereby we go to each study area on a sunny day and list the number of butterflies we find in one hour. On this last survey we encountered 19 different species in all the sites of which four were new to our inventory.
The nursery project is going well and we are working hard in our environmentally friendly greenhouse which has made by using plastic bottles. Discarded plastic bottles were a problem in Ghandruk Village and so we spent hours walking the trails of the village collecting the bottles until we had enough to make the greenhouse. The bottles are perfect for plant cultivation as they allow light to pass through and also use the sun to warm the area and promote faster growth of our saplings. Currently we are focusing our efforts on two plant species important as fodder crops for the village’s domestic livestock. By providing locals with saplings of these two fig species (Ficus sp.) we hope to reduce their impact in the surrounding forest as their animals are cut loose to forage or the villagers themselves venture out to bring back food for their animals.
Sensor Camera Survey
This month the camera trap survey was performed a long way from the village as we went on a long field trip to Chomrong for three days. We took our cameras with us and left them there for two weeks. We hoped to capture on camera some of the jungle’s more elusive residents such as the common leopard and the Himalayan black bear. However the increased pressures of agriculture seem to be forcing the wildlife further away and we were unable to record these two species. The trip was a success in many other ways however as we recorded a new species for our list in the Sumatra serow (Capricornis sumatraensis). Other great sightings included the Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral), which is a large goat like creature, and a large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha).
As part of our environmental education program our volunteers have been working with the local people in the village to make the people aware about the problem of garbage lying around the village. A garbage management campaign was started with volunteers going to different sections of the village to make them aware of the garbage and worked together with the villagers to clean it up. The volunteers enjoyed working together with the villagers and the villagers appreciated our volunteers for their help in keeping the village clean. The cleaning campaign will now be a permanent fixture for the first week of each Nepali month.
Next time I will have much more news to bring you from our conservation project as the rains start to fall and the forests around the village come to life with the warmer temperatures….