Efforts to protect rare and endemic species

[ Prem Chetry ]

BOMDILA/ITANAGAR, 9 Jun: Consistent follow-ups by conservationists and nature enthusiasts have led to encounters with several rare, endemic and endangered species of birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, plants, and herbs in Arunachal Pradesh.

Endemic bird species like the Bugun liocichla in Singchung and the Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) in Dirang, both in West Kameng

district, the giant shrike bird and the Meconopsis merakensi (a blue, pansy-like flower) in the Nagula wetland area in Tawang district, besides many more, are yet to be recorded.

On being asked about recording of these significant discoveries by the forest department, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife & Biodiversity) N Tam said, “The department, through all its forest divisions, keeps a tab on all the new discoveries and records of species in the state.”

He further said that “regular awareness through social media and awareness signs on roadways, etc, are given by the department, and people are also sensitised to the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1979, through these mediums.”

The environment & forests department also supports conservation-related festivals like the Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival, the Eaglenest Bird Festival, and the Namdapha Butterfly Festival, he added.

“The wildlife division of the department actively conducts data enumeration of mammalian species in all three tiger reserves of the state to assess the population trend, as well as to study the habitats.

“Every year, tiger census and monitoring work is conducted in all three tiger reserves, following the National Tiger Conservation Authority protocol. Also, the department actively conducts elephant census work in all the forest divisions frequented by elephants, and also in the forest divisions which have historical records of elephant presence,” Tam said.

On being asked if declaring forests ‘reserved’ or ‘restricted’ ensures that rare, endemic and endangered species thrive, Tam replied that “reserved forests, including community forests, are treasure houses of some rare and endemic species of flora and fauna.

“For example, the bird Bugun liocichla can be found in the community forest of the Bugun people in Singchung. Bringing these forests under the legal purview helps to safeguard some rare and endemic species from illegal extraction and poaching, and helps the villagers generate income through activities like ecotourism,” the PCCF said.

Some rare species, like the Tibetan Brimstone butterfly, was sighted after over 70 years in the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary only once, in August 2013. When asked if there was any factor that forced the Tibetan Brimstone to migrate out of the place, Tam said: “Faunal sightings in the wild require hard work and dedication. Also, sightings of rare animals in the wild require some luck, too. The Tibetan Brimstone butterfly was sighted by two scientists – Sanjay Sodhi and Purnendu Roy – in August 2013. It was sighted after 74 years, and it was the first record in India and the second in the world.”

“Environmental factors, such as climate change, and manmade problems, such as causing habitat loss, excessive use of pesticide, etc, can have a severe impact on the population of butterflies in the wild. More research work is required to understand the behaviour of the Tibetan Brimstone butterfly from the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and other places of Arunachal,” Tam informed.

“The environment, forest and climate change department encourages researchers to conduct research in all the protected and unprotected forest areas in Arunachal Pradesh,” Tam concluded.