Pheasants and Finches - two of the flagship Himalayan species seem to be reeling under the threat of climate change, states the preliminary findings of survey by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
In the times when gloom of climate change seems to be affecting the world environment, studying its impact on various species to formulate well informed policies has become imperative. Keeping this in mind, BNHS has launched a program focusing on Pheasants and Finches (species of birds) to study climate change in Himalayas.
Until now, the team has undertaken surveys to understand distribution and status of Pheasants in four districts of Sikkim and two of West Bengal. The team observed five species of Pheasants and Finches each so far. The Kalij Pheasant is the most common species of Pheasants observed in the states of Sikkim and West Bengal, whereas Satyr Tragopan is relatively uncommon. Similarly, the Plain Mountain-Finch is one of the most abundant and widely distributed species amongst the Finches. One of the important observations of the survey was sightings of Kalij Pheasants in the Kitam Bird Sanctuary, Sikkim where it was found in abundance about 10-15 years ago. However, the locals noted that population of Kalij Pheasants has declined significantly in the bird sanctuary.
It is not just the experts, but the community members in the areas also had some startling observations to share. According to them, species of Rhododendron (a woody plant which indicates the onset of spring) bloomed a couple of months earlier than their actual blooming period in Okhrey, West Sikkim. Similarly, snow and ice started thawing earlier, whereas a decrease in rainfall and drying up of springs was also observed in some areas.
"These observations can be valuable in the context of climate change in the Himalayas. BNHS intends to correlate presence of bird species and changes in the ecosystem to validate these observations of locals under this study," noted Deepak Apte, Director, BNHS
The findings are just a part of BNHS's preliminary survey in this long term project. Based on these observations, mitigation efforts will now be undertaken involving the community as the guiding force.