A once-neglected wildlife preserve in India has shown steady signs of improvement after camera traps positioned within it recorded several animal species previously unknown in the park.
At the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in northeastern India, a crab-eating mongoose, a yellow-throated marten and a Himalayan serow were recently documented by camera traps placed by the Bihar Forest Department, WWF-India and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
Prior to the recent find, a hoary-bellied squirrel was photographed by WTI.
"Over the last two months, we have discovered three new species only with the help of these camera traps. None of these four, including the squirrel, were mentioned in the latest faunal records published by the Zoological Survey of India, which mentions 53 species of mammals," said Santosh Tiwari, Field Director of the Tiger Reserve.
Dr. Samir Kumar Sinha, WTI's Regional Head for Bihar, said the recent additions to the faunal record are a sign that Valmiki is recovering.
"These discoveries only go on to prove that the once neglected reserve is on a revival path with the joint activities by the Forest Department and NGOs in association with the communities who have been proactively contributing to this," Sinha said.
According to the WTI, Valmiki was "largely neglected" by authorities and "heavily exploited" by locals in the area, despite its status as a top-level tiger conservation area. But starting in 2003, the WTI and the Bihar state Forest Department initiated a conservation project to help revitalize Valmiki.
"We are excited by these discoveries, Valmiki has excellent potential for tiger recovery and given its contiguity with the Chitwan National Park in Nepal will be a critical site for undertaking transboundary approaches for tiger conservation. WWF will strengthen its partnership with the management of Valmiki and intensify conservation efforts," said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Species and Landscapes Director for WWF-India.
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