Forest bird status in eastern Nepal

Tim Dodman

The forests of eastern Nepal are unique in the country and are at considerable risk of degradation and destruction. Within a relatively small area there is a high diversity of forest types and associated fauna ranging from tropical forest to different mosaics of temperate forest. The bird life is particularly prolific, with a number of species being unrepresented elsewhere in Nepal. Additionally, some forest types are not included in the present national protected area system; thus some species, for instance the Rufous-backed Sivia (Heterophasia annectans), are totally unprotected in Nepal. Inskipp (1989) highlighted the need for further research in the forests of eastern Nepal and their conservation. This project gathered information in light of these recommendations, particularly on bird species present and threats to particular forests. All the forests visited were threatened to some extent, and it was perceived that there is an urgent need for their conservation and incorporation into the national protected areas system. A programme of integrated community development and conservation would seem to be the most suitable, taking in the whole area encompassed by the Mai and possible the Tamur valleys. This area badly needs an initiative, as both wildlife and people depend on the forests.The status of the globally threatened Swamp Francolin (Francolinus gularis) at Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve was also investigated. The eastern bund of the reserve contained a density of about eight francolins per square kilometre. These endangered birds were threatened by changes in the river and in their habitat, and possibly by predation. No Bengal Floricans (Eupodotis bengalensis) were seen south of Kosi Barrage, nor any suitable habitat.