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Indian tiger reserve on path to revival with discovery of three additional species

8 August 2013

Valmiki, India August 6, 2013: Evidence of three more species has been found in the once-neglected Valmiki Tiger Reserve in north east India during the past two months.

A crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva), a yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) and a Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) were captured by camera traps placed by the Bihar Forest Department, WWF-India and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

These are in addition to a hoary-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus) previously photographed by WTI.

“Over the last two months, we have discovered three new species only with the help of these camera traps. None of these four, including the squirrel, were mentioned in the latest faunal records published by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), which mentions 53 species of mammals,” said Santosh Tiwari, Field Director of the Tiger Reserve.

“These discoveries only go on to prove that the once neglected reserve is on a revival path with the joint activities by the Forest Department and NGOs in association with the communities who have been proactively contributing to this,” said Dr Samir Kumar Sinha, WTI’s Regional Head for Bihar.

The camera trapping by WWF-India was carried out as a part of a monitoring exercise in collaboration with Department of Environment & Forests, Bihar and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Government of India.
WWF-India has been working in partnership with the Bihar Forest Department to monitor Valmiki’s tigers and with partners in Nepal is implementing a transboundary approach to conservation.

“We are excited by these discoveries, Valmiki has excellent potential for tiger recovery and given its contiguity with the Chitwan National Park in Nepal will be a critical site for undertaking transboundary approaches for tiger conservation. WWF will strengthen its partnership with the management of Valmiki and intensify conservation efforts,” said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India.

The tiger monitoring work in Valmiki is part of the larger tiger survey being undertaken in India and Nepal across the entire Terai Arc Landscape for the first time, WWF-India is supporting the government in their efforts to develop Valmiki as a tiger recovery site.

Working with the Forest Department since 2003, WTI’s Valmiki Conservation Project helped establish the presence of a viable population of tigers, bringing focus back to this formerly neglected tiger reserve in the mid-2000s.

The Project carries out a comprehensive approach to conservation, including studies on tigers and habitat recovery activities; it is supported by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT).

The project also works with the communities involving them in conservation and reducing their dependence on forest resources, particularly within the villages in the Done valley that forms an incursion into the core of the tiger reserve.

These species have been previously recorded in the neighbouring Chitwan National Park in Nepal, which forms the northern boundary of Valmiki Reserve. The ZSI has recorded 10 species of amphibians, 27 species of reptiles and 75 species of insects in Valmiki, including the gaur (Bos gaurus) and the Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus), which are not found in rest of the Terai region in India.
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Notes to Editors:

About the animals:
Crab-eating mongoose
: The crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva), listed in Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, is a mongoose species found in a variety of habitats across northeast India and South-east Asia. Hunting affects localised parts of the global population. It is generally grey in color, with a broad white stripe on its neck extending from its cheeks to its chest.

Yellow-throated Marten: The yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) has a wide distribution, and evidently relatively stable population, across Asia. Also called honey dog for its fondness for sweet food, this mammal has a brown coat that darkens toward and on the tail, and its throat and chin are yellowish orange. It is listed in the CITES III appendix in India.

Himalayan Serow: The Himalayan Serow (Capricornis thar) is a goat-antelope native to the Himalayas and Bangladesh, listed as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN red list, due to hunting for food and habitat loss. Accounts from throughout the species' range report that it inhabits rugged steep hills and rocky places, but its population is on a steep decline. In appearance, the serow has a goat-like body with short limbs, and its coat is coarse and varies in colour from red to black with some white on the chest.

Hoary-bellied squirrel: The hoary-bellied squirrel (Callosciurus pygerythrus) is native to Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar and Nepal, and widely distributed across this region. It is a diurnal and arboreal species that has often been recorded from gardens and plantations. It is listed in the Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

About WWF-India:

WWF-India is one of the largest conservation organizations engaged in wildlife and nature conservation in the country. It has an experience of over four decades in the field and has made its presence felt through a sustained effort not only towards nature and wildlife conservation, but sensitising people by creating awareness through capacity building and enviro-legal activism.

It is a part of WWF International, which is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

http://www.wwfindia.org/news_facts/ for latest news and media resources
http://www.wti.org.in/oldsite/project-in-focus/july2009-valmiki-conservation-project.html for more on WTI’s work in Valmiki OR www.wti.org.in for latest WTI news

For further information, please contact:

Natalie Clark | Media Officer
T: +44 (0)1483 412253 | E: nclark@wwf.org.uk
WWF-UK | Panda House | Weyside Business Park | Godalming | GU7 1XR

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