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Aryal A.,Massey University | Brunton D.,Massey University | Ji W.,Massey University | Yadav H.K.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Mammal Study | Year: 2012

Hispid hare Caprolagus hispidus is one of the less studied endangered small mammal species in the world. Hispid hare distribution includes the tropical grassland ecosystem in Nepal. Grassland fire is one of the management regimes used in this region and its impact on biodiversity is controversial. We investigated the diet and habitat use of hispid hare before and after a grassland fire at Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR) in Nepal. Fecal pellets were used for micro-histological analysis to understand hispid hare diet. We laid out sampling plots in areas where we encountered hispid hare sign and recorded habitat and vegetation information. We also looked for signs of hare presence along systematically positioned transect lines and used these data to assess the population status of hispid hare. Population density of hispid hare was 5.76 individuals/km2 and we estimated a population size of 219 ± 40 hispid hare within the 41 km2 grasslands of SWR. Hispid hare primarily used tall grassland habitat. Nineteen plant species were identified in hispid hare pellets with Saccharum spontaneum and Imperata cylindrica having the highest frequency of occurrence. There were no significant differences in the distribution of plant species in the pellets before and after the fire; however a significantly higher diversity of plants were recorded in hispid hare diet after the fire. We recommend a change to the timing of grass burning to either before or after the hispid hare breeding season to reduce the direct (burning, destruction of nests) and indirect (increased risk of predation) negative effects of such grassland management on hare populations. Population management strategies and a field based conservation captive breeding program should be implemented immediately to maintain a viable population of hispid hare in SWR. © The Mammal Society of Japan.

Chetri M.,Hedmark University of Applied science | Jhala Y.V.,Wildlife Institute of India | Subedi N.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | Dhakal M.,Babarmahal | Yumnam B.,Wildlife Institute of India
ZooKeys | Year: 2016

The taxonomic status of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Nepal’s Trans-Himalaya is poorly understood. Recent genetic studies have revealed the existence of three lineages of wolves in the Indian sub-continent. Of these, the Himalayan wolf, Canis lupus chanco, has been reported to be the most ancient lineage historically distributed within the Nepal Himalaya. These wolves residing in the Trans-Himalayan region have been suggested to be smaller and very different from the European wolf. During October 2011, six fecal samples suspected to have originated from wolves were collected from Upper Mustang in the Annapurna Conservation Area of Nepal. DNA extraction and amplification of the mitochondrial (mt) control region (CR) locus yielded sequences from five out of six samples. One sample matched domestic dog sequences in GenBank, while the remaining four samples were aligned within the monophyletic and ancient Himalayan wolf clade. These four sequences which matched each other, were new and represented a novel Himalayan wolf haplotype. This result confirms that the endangered ancient Himalayan wolf is extant in Nepal. Detailed genomic study covering Nepal’s entire Himalayan landscape is recommended in order to understand their distribution, taxonomy and, genetic relatedness with other wolves potentially sharing the same landscape. © Madhu Chetri et al.

Subedi A.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | Aryal A.,Massey University | Koirala R.K.,Massey University | Koirala R.K.,Tribhuvan University | And 3 more authors.
International Journal of Zoological Research | Year: 2012

The Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster) is an endangered species found in the Himalayan region of Nepal. This research was conducted in the Manaslu Conservation Area to explore the deer's general population status, distribution, habitat preference and conservation threats. Musk deer are distributed within the altitudinal range of 3128-4039 m spanning 35.43 km2, with the most potential habitat in the Prok VDC (Village Development Committee). Within this area the Musk deer highly preferred altitudes between 3601-3800 m, with a 21-30° slope, 26-50% crown cover and 26-50% ground cover. There are significant differences in the use of different habitat types in terms of altitude, slope, crown cover, ground cover and topography. The preferred tree species were Abies spectabilis, Betula utilis and Rhododendron species. Poaching of deer for their musk is the major conservation threat. © 2012 Academic Journals Inc.

Barber-Meyer S.M.,WWF U.S. | Barber-Meyer S.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Jnawali S.R.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | Khanal P.,WWF Nepal | And 12 more authors.
Journal of Zoology | Year: 2013

Tigers are globally endangered and continue to decline due to poaching, prey depletion and habitat loss. In Nepal, tiger populations are fragmented and found mainly in four protected areas (PAs). To establish the use of standard methods, to assess the importance of prey availability and human disturbance on tiger presence and to assess tiger occupancy both inside and outside PAs, we conducted a tiger occupancy survey throughout the Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal. Our model-average estimate of the probability of tiger site occupancy was 0.366 [standard error (se) = 0.02, a 7% increase from the naive estimate] and the probability of detection estimate was 0.65 (se = 0.08) per 1km searched. Modeled tiger site occupancy ranged from 0.04 (se = 0.05) in areas with a relatively lower prey base and higher human disturbance to 1 (se = 0 and 0.14) in areas with a higher prey base and lower human disturbance. We estimated tigers occupied just 5049 (se = 3) km2 (36%) of 13915km2 potential tiger habitat (forests and grasslands), and we detected sign in four of five key corridors linking PAs across Nepal and India, respectively indicating significant unoccupied areas likely suitable for tigers and substantial potential for tiger dispersal. To increase tiger populations and to promote long-term persistence in Nepal, otherwise suitable areas should be managed to increase prey and minimize human disturbance especially in critical corridors linking core tiger populations. © 2012 The Zoological Society of London.

Subedi N.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | Jnawali S.R.,National Trust for Nature Conservation | Dhakal M.,Babarmahal | Pradhan N.M.B.,WWF Nepal | And 4 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2013

Abstract We assessed the abundance and distribution of the greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis in all its potential habitats in Nepal, using block counts. In April 2011 5,497 km were searched in 3,548 elephant-hours over 23 days. The validity of the block count was assessed by comparing it with counts obtained from long-term monitoring using photographic identification of individual rhinoceroses (ID-based), and estimates obtained by closed population sighting-mark-resighting in the 214 km 2 of Chitwan National Park. A total of 534 rhinoceroses were found during the census, with 503 in Chitwan National Park (density 1 km -2), 24 in Bardia National Park (0.28 km-2) and seven in Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (0.1 km-2). In Chitwan 66% were adults, 12% subadults and 22% calves, with a female : male ratio of 1.24. The population estimate from sighting-mark-resighting was 72 (95% CI 71-78). The model with different detection probabilities for males and females had better support than the null model. In the Sauraha area of Chitwan estimates of the population obtained by block count (77) and ID-based monitoring (72) were within the 95% confidence interval of the estimate from sighting-mark-resighting. We recommend a country-wide block count for rhinoceroses every 3 years and annual ID-based monitoring in a sighting-mark-resighting framework within selected subpopulations. The sighting-mark-resighting technique provides the statistical rigour required for population estimates of the rhinoceros in Nepal and elsewhere. © 2013 Fauna & Flora International.

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