Terai Arc Landscape, Nepal
The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) in Nepal was selected as the field site for the sub-tropical dry forest Biome where we will be working closely with our in-country partners WWF Nepal, and the Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University. The Terai Arc Landscape is located in the south of Nepal, and stretches along the border with India. The forests of the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) are of particular conservation concern for WWF as many flagship species inhabit these forests, including tigers (Panthera tigris), one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), leopard (Panthera pardus) and rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus). The forests are also an important source of thatch, firewood, timber, fodder, and traditional medicine to local people.
In Nepal, road infrastructure and intensification of cultivation has been the primary causes of deforestation and fragmentation. By using grids of camera traps, we plan to quantify the effect of forest fragmentation and different forest management regimes on the diversity of mammals at our field sites in the TAL. Furthermore, we will also use acoustic sensors to monitor vocalising species in these areas.
We have identified three sites under different management regimes/levels of forest fragmentation and degradation, within which we will deploy approximately 50 camera traps each. Bardia National Park is a long established protected area in Nepal, and is a largely unfragmented landscape which is home to some of the largest populations of tigers in the region. Surrounding the national park is a buffer zone which includes community managed forests, and is a mixed matrix of human habitations and medium-sized forest patches. Further away from the reserve towards a major city, we will also deploy camera traps in an agricultural area with small forest fragments and no protection for wildlife.
We envisage the results of our research to be relevant for conservation policy, feeding into forest management action plans, and will be relevant to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the area.