Survey unfolds risks in vibrant biological corridors

Posted on 12 July 2012  | 
Government’s attention has now been brought to problems affecting healthy biological corridors after a recent survey was conducted by the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) through WWF funding in corridors connecting RMNP and Phibsoo and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Findings from the survey pointed out that the corridor between the RMNP and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) could be hampered by the new town plan in Nganglam and other human rehabilitation programs in the area.

Discussions are being held within the Department of Forest and Park Services to take up the issue to relevant authorities. Meanwhile, as an interim measure, the rehabilitation programs located in the corridor have also been realigned to ensure some natural forest is kept aside for wildlife movement.

According to RMNP, the issue has also been raised with the Nganglam Dungkhag authorities (for eastern corridor) who have asked for further clarifications prior to implementing a new town plan in the Dungkhag. 
On the other hand, illegal timber felling and poaching in between Risor and Gerwa (in the RMNP-Khaling corridor) continues at an alarming rate.

The team has apprehended timber smugglers and illegal fishermen. The survey team could not set camera traps in the field owing to high probabilities of cameras being stolen by illegal timber transporters from across the border.

Although biological corridors were established in 1999, none of the corridors have been fully tested on its functionality. However, with the new survey conducted in the eastern and western corridors of Manas the area has been found ecologically sound. 

The two corridors are home to 20 medium to large mammal species that were spotted in the corridor. It included a lone Red Panda, Civets, Asiatic Elephant, Sambar, Marbled Cat, Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Tiger, Black Panther, Clouded Leopard and Wild Boars.

Evidence of a tigress with two cubs has also been photographed which is the first of its kind in Bhutan along the corridors connecting Manas. The presence of tigers shows that the area is ecologically vibrant as both tigers and their prey have been recorded in the corridors.

Once the survey is complete, the park hopes that all relevant government agencies will be further appraised on the detailed findings so that development plans do not encroach into designated corridors committed by the government.
Survey areas: Manas-Phibsoo corridor (Red), Manas-Khaling corridor (green)
Survey areas: Manas-Phibsoo corridor (Red), Manas-Khaling corridor (green)
© WWF Bhutan Enlarge
Tiger with cub at chungsing (1700 m), the corridor linking RMNP and Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
Tiger with cub at chungsing (1700 m), the corridor linking RMNP and Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary
© WWF Bhutan Enlarge

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