Need more knowledge to conserve the Himalayan ecosystem

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Most of the Himalayan ecosystem outside protected areas is threatened. Although forest cover has increased, according to the Forest Survey of India, its impact on biodiversity is unclear. Regardless of the data generated in the field, habitat degradation in the Himalayas is constant, causing species to decline.

These views expressed by GS Rawat, former dean and director of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), on the status of the Himalayas on Himalayan Day on September 9.

With the theme of this year’s Himalayan Day being “Himalayas: Science and Knowledge”, Rawat also raised the issue of scientific knowledge for effective management of the Himalayan ecosystem.

We do not know the regime of the meadows and their management. Likewise, there are conflicting theories about the management of pine forests. Some environmentalists believe pine needles contribute to forest fires without any scientific study to back this claim, ”Rawat said, adding,“ Pine needles play an important role in recycling nutrients. Different aspects must be taken into consideration in the conduct of scientific research on such questions.

Rawat also raised the issue of the degradation of grasslands in the Alpine Himalayan region and the alienation of the nomadic Gaddi community from the pastures of the high Himalayas, where they move with their large herd of cattle.

WII scientist Bilal Habib stressed the need for mega financial projects to understand the intricacies of species, both herbivorous and carnivorous, in order to conserve them for future generations.

S Sathya Kumar, another senior scientist from WII, said: “We are faced with the challenge of development (hydropower projects, roads, etc.) versus conservation. There is a lot of uncertainty in the data. We need to use simple and easy methods for long term monitoring, which could be useful for conservation. He urged young people to conduct research to unravel more mysteries about the biodiversity of the Himalayas and its species.

Wildlife scientists and environmentalists unanimously supported expanding the current knowledge base and the need for scientific advancements to better understand the Himalayan ecosystem.

WII scientist Salvador Lyngdoh said setting up camera traps in the rugged and remote Himalayan ranges has helped better understand the world of elusive wildlife, such as their behavior, activities, and more.

Likewise, GPS telemetry has made it possible to understand the behavior of animals in a given space. The information and data generated by these scientific methods will play a central role in the identification of critical species and their conservation, ”added Lyngdoh.

WII researchers like Ranjana Pal have shed light on scientific methods such as remote sampling in a remote network while researching ungulates in the Himalayas. The low population density of the species, the inaccessibility of the land and the logistical constraints are some of the challenges of the land, she stressed.

Another researcher Shivam Shotriya said the transect method works in flatter areas but not on dangerous high mountains. The point-count remote sampling method is considered beneficial for its cost and time efficiency, wider coverage of areas and reliable estimates compared to traditional total counting. This method works for species with a wide and uniform distribution like the kiang and the blue sheep.

Urjit Bhatt explained the link between moonlight and mammal behavior in Manas National Park, Assam. Hussain Reshamwala discussed the behavior of species using telemetry. Extreme winters, when temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius, pose a series of challenges, such as freezing camera traps and tranquilizers, making it even more difficult to attach radio collars to a wild animal in the high Himalayas. , did he declare.

About 40% of amphibian species are in danger of extinction, which requires urgent collection of more information on these animals. WII researcher Naitik Patel explained the technique of estimating the recapture of amphibian abundance marks to collect data on their population in a given area of ​​the Himalayan region.


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