INDIA

New Haven for Himalayan Wildlife

Project Cost: $191,400

Funding Raised: $191,400

$16.86 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

X The Impact

The Himalayas contain the planet’s highest peaks and are the source of Asia’s greatest rivers. The complex geography and enormous altitudinal gradients of these mountains have created ideal conditions for many different plants and animals to thrive, making this region a biodiversity hotspot and veritable Shangri-La of unique species.

The Endangered Red Panda calls this region home. Intensely hunted for its unique fur and highly valued bushy tail, it sports a bandit-like mask and russet and cream colored fur. Slightly larger than a housecat, these animals are becoming increasingly rare – particularly as their habitat is disappearing quickly.

In northeast India sits the spectacular Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, the center piece of a protected area complex that serves as an important corridor for a wide variety of iconic species, including the Red Panda, Asian Elephant, Clouded Leopard, and over 450 bird species.

Unfortunately, the rarest and most enigmatic bird species in the region – the Bugun Liocichla – is known from only a handful of individuals and is located on 1,000 acres just outside of the sanctuary. For the first time in history, this beautiful bird’s habitat can be protected. Working with a local partner, Bugun Welfare Society, Rainforest Trust will create the 11,510-acre Bugun Conservation Area to permanently protect the Bugun Liocichla and a population stronghold of the Red Panda.

Fast Facts

Location
Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India

Size
11,510 acres

Key Species
Bugun Liocichla (CR), Red Panda (EN), Asian Elephant (EN), Clouded Leopard (VU) Asiatic Black Bear (VU)

Habitat
Eastern Himalayan Montane Forests

Threats
Deforestation, agricultural encroachment, poaching

Action
Establish the Bugun Community Conservation Area for the Endangered Red Panda

Local Partner
Bugun Welfare Society

Financial Need
$191,400

Price Per Acre
$16.86

Biodiversity

Second only to the Andes, the Himalayas contain a huge diversity of birdlife. Over 450 bird species have been recorded in the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, including several rare species such as Blyth’s Tragopan and Ward’s Trogon.

But the rarest bird in the region, the jewel-like Bugun Liocichla, is known from only a handful of individuals and is located in a 1,000-acre area of montane forest outside the sanctuary. Recently discovered in 2006, the Bugun Liocichla is the first bird discovered in India since the country’s independence. These forests are an important refuge not just for the Bugun Liocichla but for many threatened mammals. Biodiversity surveys in the area have recorded an astounding number of rare species: Red Pandas, Asian Elephants, Clouded Leopards, Asiatic Black Bears and Marbled Cats. With elevations up to 9,000 feet, a wide variety of wildlife habitats exist within the area. The forests of the eastern Himalayas are considered some of the most floristically diverse in the world. Rare trees and shrubs such as the Critically Endangered Minangmose Tree and Endangered Himalayan Yew have been recorded in the reserve, as well as several rare orchid species. Many more will likely be discovered in the future.

Challenges

Wildlife of the eastern Himalayas are increasingly under threat.

People have lived in the mountains for thousands of years, but most habitat destruction has taken place during the last century. Forests are becoming increasingly strained by demand for timber and food crops, while poaching for the illegal wildlife trade decimates rare species that are outside protected areas. Threats to the area’s forests mainly come from extraction of timber and the encroachment of roads that degrade and fragment habitat.

Communities

The forests surrounding Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary lie within the traditional lands of the local Bugun tribe, who have practiced subsistence farming and have sustainably harvested forest products on their lands for centuries.

Recently, they have worked with government agencies, wildlife scientists and eco-tourists from around the world to conserve their traditional lands. Since 2004, Rainforest Trust’s local partner, the Bugun Welfare Society, has been running sustainable, low-impact ecotourism on Bugun community lands and in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. In recognition of its achievements towards responsible ecotourism and biodiversity conservation, Bugun Welfare Society has received several state and national-level awards. In partnership with the state forest department of Arunachal Pradesh, the organization conducts nature education and awareness camps on an annual basis, especially for local students and teachers. The local community and Bugun Welfare Society are working together to ensure the rich variety of Himalayan wildlife, including the Bugun Liocichla and the Red Panda, are conserved in perpetuity on their ancestral lands.

Solutions

The Bugun tribe is very proud that the Critically Endangered Bugun Liocichla is only found on their lands and is named after their tribe. They have requested that Rainforest Trust support their efforts to establish the proposed Bugun Conservation Area to protect the species.

The area will be managed jointly by the village council and state forest department of Arunuchal Pradesh. This new 11,510-acre conservation area will effectively expand the adjacent Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, providing the first ever protection for this rare bird species. The Bugun tribe has been at the forefront of conservation efforts on its traditional lands for many years now, through low-impact ecotourism, local outreach, conservation education and public awareness. In partnership with Rainforest Trust, Bugun Welfare Society and the Bugun tribe are working to designate the proposed reserve and to strengthen their conservation efforts by giving these lands legal status as a protected area to prevent activities such as road-building, logging and hunting. To enforce the new designation, the area will be regularly patrolled by park guards from the local community. Collaborative, community-driven protection efforts such as these serve as a successful model for future conservation efforts in Arunachal Pradesh and throughout the eastern Himalayas.