WPA is dedicated to ensuring the survival of those species of pheasants and related birds that are threatened with extinction, and to the maintenance of viable populations of all these birds and their natural habitats. The guiding principle is that local ownership of conservation programmes is the key to long-term success.
Pipar is a 42km square rhododendron forest at 3322m on a spur of the Machhapuchare Peak in the Annapurna Conservation area and home to 5 out of 6 of Nepal’s Himalayan pheasant species. Since 1983, the WPA has worked closely with the local village of Karuwa, closest to the conservation area, helping to resource teaching facilities, pay for teaching staff and equipment in return for the villagers’ using the forest only as they had always done, for their own needs, and not for commercial gain i.e. not for hunting, collecting medicinal plants and mushrooms or cutting timber in the pheasant breeding season. The pheasant population has remained stable in all this time and the project has been held up as a model project. The project aims to:
- Build extensions to extend schools at Bara Buri for a nursery and Sukla Gandaki for teaching up to University level and establish teaching in these facilities
- Monitor biodiversity (birds and habitat) in Pipar and adjacent forests
The construction of a 10+2 teaching department has been carried out, meaning that students wanting to continue their education can stay in the local ara, rather than having to move away to the nearest town or city. More funds were raised to kit out one of the rooms as a library and another as a computer room, along with solar back up panels for more a more reliable source of electricity. Additional funds received will allow WPA to extend EOCA’s funding to support two 10+2 teachers over the next 2 years.
A kindergarten classroom will be built early in 2012, and an early-years teacher will be funded for a year.
The ninth survey of pheasants has been conducted in and around Pipar, and 18 days were spent out in the field during May 2011, visiting 5 sites, two or which were new. Call recordings of several species were made.
Of concern, following the survey, the koklass pheasant was not recorded at any of the sites for the first time. Conversely, satr tragopan and hill partridge were ubiquitous, with the latter being expecially numerous in Pipar. In addition, mammal sightings were surprisingly uncommon, but the team didmake several important sightings of pikas, Himalayan tahr and goral, and many ungulate droppings. Numerous mustelid, canid and lepoard scats were also seen – as were fresh black bear prints 250m from the Khumai campsite!