Six birds join list of protected animals


From Kuensel Online  (Feb 2012)

The Cabinet yesterday added six birds to the list of protected wild animals in Bhutan under the Forest and Nature Conservation Act. This, forestry officials said, was the first change since the Act's introduction in 1995, taking the total number of protected wild animals to 30 different species. The bird species added to the list include White-belled heron, Chesnut-brested hill Patridge, White-rumped vulture, beautiful Nuthatch, Blyth's Tragopan and Satyr Tragopan. 


The birds are spread all over the country with white-belled Heron found in Wangduephodrang, Punakha, Dagana, Sarpang and Zhemgang.The Beautiful Nuthatch is found both in the eastern regions of Zhemgang, Monger, Samdrupjongkhar and Trashigang and in Chhukha in the west. 


Blyth's Tragopan is found only in Trashigang and like wise Chestnut-brested hill Patridge is found in Mongar. 


The White-rumped vulture, a very rare bird is found only in the southern foothills, whereas Satyr Tragopan is found in good numbers in most eastern regions. 


An Ornithologist with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang Sherub, popularly known among forestry officials as Bird Sherub, said including the birds to the list of protected animals would create awareness among people as is the case with the black-necked-crane. "That'll contribute to their conservation," he said. 


Forestry officials say that the global population of these birds had dipped with loss of habitat. In Bhutan, Bird Sherub said, the causes were mainly land conversion due to development of hydropower, farm roads, power lines and logging. Conflict with humans, such as poaching and forest fire, were other reasons. 


He said there were mitigation measures, however, such as loosening the movement of fish in the rivers as in the case of hydropower projects, where the fish movement is obstructed. "Farm roads, although they affect the habitat of the birds providing easy access to poachers in addition to damage from land conversion, are good for monitoring such illegal activities," he said. "The birds would now qualify for studies which were not done in the past." 


The addition of species to the list, a Cabinet press release stated, was proposed in view of the growing importance of these species both at the national and international context and the necessity to enable legal protection status for the species. 


Butterfly:  Amongst the birds include the much talked about butterfly species, the Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail, named the national bird of Bhutan and the only butterfly species included in the list of protected wild animals. The Ludlow's Bhutan Swallowtail is named after foreign botanists Frank Ludlow and George Sheriff, who in 1933 and 1934 collected five specimens in Bhutan from its only habitat in the Bumdeling wildlife sanctuary in Trashiyangtse. Tobrang and areas north of Tobrang to the international boundary, Tarphel, Pangkhar, Longkhar, Dramar and Barigang under the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary have been identified as prime habitat for the rare and endemic butterfly, a species that is restricted to this part of the region.  


By Passang Norbu