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Nepal’s Tamur Valley and Watershed Key Biodiversity Area is a critical habitat for the Snow Leopard and their prey, the Blue Sheep, as well as Red Pandas. The area is also a connecting landscape between the Papung Village Development Council, Makalu-Barun National Park, Kanchenjunga Conservation Area and the Lumbasumba Conservation Area (slated for declaration in 2019 with Rainforest Trust support). Twelve large, high altitude lakes and over 200 smaller wetlands in Papung makes this location an indispensable stopping ground for Snow Leopard traversing the corridor. But Papung is unprotected as it is not part of the National Parks network or the buffer zone area.
Rainforest Trust and local partner KTK-BELT seek $956,922 to purchase 917 acres of private land above the village of Simbuk. These parcels would come along with traditional usage rights acres, increasing the project’s total acreage to 1,496.5. This project will block any potential road construction into the lake region and the larger Red Panda habitat below Topkegol, a yak outpost. Without protecting these properties, a road could infiltrate 84,430 acres of prime Red Panda habitat, wetlands and lakes to the north. Blocking road construction also prevents mining and hydropower movement into this region. This purchase opens the door to declaring the entire 84,927 acres as a protected area, the ultimate outcome of this project.
Tamur Valley and Watershed, Nepal
Spikenard (CR), Alpine Musk Deer (EN), Black Musk Deer (EN), Himalayan Muskdeer (EN), Red Panda (EN), Dhole (EN), Saker Falcon (EN), Steppe Eagle (EN), Atis (EN), East Himalayan Yew (EN), Snow Leopard (VU)
Mountainous wetland, shrubland, and woodland with high altitude lakes
Road building, mining and hydropower interests, overgrazing, poaching
Land purchase and designation
Koshi Tappu Kanchenjunga Biodiversity Education Livelihood Terra-Studio (KTK-BELT)
Price per Acre:
Besides the Vulnerable Snow Leopard, this region is home to many endangered mammal species of global concern.
These include Red Panda, Himalayan Muskdeer, Wild Yak, Himalayan Black Bear and Clouded Leopard. The area is also a hotspot of endangered and endemic medicinal plant species nearing local extinction due to over-harvesting for trade with China. These include Atis Root, Spikenard and East Himalayan Yew. The main Snow Leopard prey is the Blue Sheep, a caprid found in the high Himalayan region. Their populations, much like the Snow Leopard, are also declining from habitat loss. As an important prey species, keeping a healthy Blue Sheep population is vital to the Snow Leopard.
As the only habitat along this Snow Leopard passage without protected status, it remains vulnerable to roads, mining interests, land grabbing, hydropower and other disruptive development activities.
Papung is unprotected and undesignated, and therefore not part of the National Parks system. As the only habitat along this Snow Leopard passage without protected status, it remains vulnerable to roads, mining interests, land grabbing, hydropower and other disruptive development activities. In addition, overgrazing by yak herders has resulted in the decline of the Blue Sheep population. This land purchase would block these threats and establish an 84,927 acre road-less protected area in the high altitude lake region. The project will also provide alternative livelihoods through ecotourism to the 216 local households surrounding the area. In exchange, the communities would redirect grazing and reduce harvesting endangered medicinal plants.
Papung has one of the richest and most intact Buddhist cultures in Nepal.
Local people, who belong to the Dhokpya clan, have built monasteries in Simbuk and preserved their rich cultural practices through sacred song, prayer, cuisine and dress. Papung’s lack of roads and remoteness are two of the main reasons much of their culture remains intact. Traditional architecture is preserved in Topkegola, a yak outpost, where the local homes are built with ancient techniques. The ritual practice of worshiping the local lakes and wetlands is also intact, illustrating how seamlessly culture and nature interweave in Papung. Local leaders are committed to preventing roads into the project site, assuming they can establish nature-based tourism and the land purchase can block road access.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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