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Kathmandu, Nepal

Acharya R.,Friends of Nature | Cuthbert R.,Royal Society for the Protection of Birds | Sagar Baral H.E.M.,Himalayan Nature | Chaudhary A.,Bird Conservation Nepal

We assessed the status ofthe Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus between 2002 and 2008 in Upper Mustang, Nepal. Regular monitoring of four transect lines indicate a rapid decline of the species over the study period, with the number of individuals recorded per day and per kilometre falling by 73 % and 80%), respectively. The use of the veterinary drug diclofenac could lie behind this decline, as the species's range overlaps with those of other vulture species known to be affected by diclofenac. A regular monitoring programme to assess the status of Bearded Vulture population is urgently needed, along with assessment of its population trends over a wider area. If ongoing declines on a wider geographic scale are observed, then the conservation status of this species should be reassessed. Source

Chaudhary A.,Bird Conservation Nepal | Subedi T.R.,Panda Network | Giri J.B.,Tribhuvan University | Baral H.S.,Himalayan Nature | And 6 more authors.
Bird Conservation International

Three species of resident Gyps vulture are threatened with extinction in South Asia due to the contamination of domestic ungulate carcasses with the drug diclofenac. Observed rates of population decrease are among the highest recorded for any bird species, leading to total declines in excess of 99.9% for the Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in India between 1992 and 2007. Vultures have declined in Nepal, but quantitative information on the rate and scale of decreases is unavailable. Road transect surveys for vultures, following the same route, methodology and timing, were undertaken in lowland areas of Nepal for seven years from 2002 to 2011. The seven survey transects followed Nepalâ(tm)s East-West highway and covered 1,010 km in three years of the survey, and 638 km in the remaining four years. Slender-billed Vultures G. tenuirostris were very scarce, with a maximum of five individuals in 2002 and none recorded in 2010 and 2011. Oriental White-backed Vultures were most commonly recorded, but decreased from 205 to 68 birds over the survey period, with an estimated annual rate of decline of 14% a year. If population decreases commenced in Nepal in the same year as in India, then White-backed Vultures in Nepal have declined by 91% since the mid-1990s. Few resident Gyps vultures remained in Eastern and Central regions of Nepal, with just one, nine and six birds recorded in the three surveys that covered these regions. The majority of threatened Gyps vultures in lowland Nepal are now found in Western and Mid Western regions, where conservation efforts have been focused in the last six years. Removing veterinary diclofenac from across the country and continuing to manage effective âœvulture safe zonesâare essential to conserve Nepalâ(tm)s remaining vulture populations. © 2011 BirdLife International. Source

Leader P.J.,Asia Ecological Consultants Ltd | Carey G.J.,Asia Ecological Consultants Ltd | Olsson U.,Gothenburg University | Sagar Baral H.E.M.,Himalayan Nature | Alstrom P.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

We examine the taxonomie status of the three taxa of Rufous-rumped Grassbird Graminicola bengalensis based on a combination of morphology, mitochondrial DNA and vocalisations. We find sinicus and striatus to be extremely similar in morphology, and that sinicus and bengalensis exhibit morphological, vocal and genetic differences (due to the lack of modern records of striatus it was not possible to include that taxon for vocal and genetic analysis). We propose that sinicus be treated as a synonym of striatus (the latter has priority) and that there are probably species level differences between striatus (s.s.) and bengalensis. Source

Kandel K.,A+ Network | Huettmann F.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Suwal M.K.,A+ Network | Ram Regmi G.,A+ Network | And 6 more authors.
Biological Conservation

The red panda (. Ailurus fulgens) is a globally threatened species living in the multi-national Hindu-Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. It has a declining population trend due to anthropogenic pressures. Human-driven climate change is expected to have substantial impacts. However, quantitative and transparent information on the ecological niche (potential as well as realized) of this species across the vast and complex eight nations of the HKH region is lacking. Such baseline information is not only crucial for identifying new populations but also for restoring locally-extinct populations, for understanding its bio-geographical evolution, as well as for prioritizing regions and an efficient management.First we compiled, and made publicly available through an institutional repository (dSPACE), the best known 'presence only' red panda dataset with ISO compliant metadata. This was done through the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD.org) data-platform to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF.org). We used data mining and machine learning algorithms such as high-performance commercial Classification and Regression Trees, Random Forest, TreeNet, and Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines implementations. We averaged all these Geographic Information System (GIS) models for the first produced ensemble model for this species in the HKH region.Our predictive model is the first of its kind and allows to assess the red panda distribution based on empirical open access data, latest methods and the major signals and drivers of the ecological niche. It allows to assess and fine-tune earlier habitat area estimates. Our models promote 'best professional practices'. It can readily be used by the red panda Recovery Team, the red panda Action Plan, etc. because they are robust, transparent, publicly available, fit for use, and have a good accuracy, as judged by several independent assessment metrics (Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC-AUC) curves, expert opinion, assessed by known absence regions, 95% confidence intervals and new field data). © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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