9 Oct 2006
An Assessment of Herpetofaunal Diversity, Distribution and Conservation Status in Barail Hill Range, Northeast India
Herpetofaunal Distribution Pattern along an Elevational Gradient in Barail Hill Range, Northeast India: Evaluation in the Context of Conservation Priority
This project will make a detailed study of amphibians and reptiles in the region to help in identification of zones of high species richness. This will enable management authorities to formulate a habitat conservation action plan.
Barail hill range is a southwestern extension of Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot and is the highest hill range of Assam state covering two districts- Cachar and North Cachar. The range is characterized by low to mid elevation hills having tropical vegetations on lower altitudes and sub-tropical broad-leaved hill forest at higher reaches.
Unlike mammals and birds, information on the regions amphibians and reptiles of this range is largely lacking. Since comprehensive accounts of regional species composition and their distribution pattern are fundamental to initializing meaningful research program and conservation implication, so, a detailed herpetofaunal inventory at different altitudinal grades of this montane tract is targeted. The study is planned in four phases.
1) The first phase will comprise of co-ordination with forest department, local villagers as well as identification of study sites at different altitudinal grades.
2) Second phase will include inventory and photographic documentation of diversity as well as preparation of habitat maps and identification of species specific and habitat specific threats.
3) Outreach program in fringe village areas and in nearby educational institutions will be undertaken to motivate local peoples, students and forest staffs.
4) The generated information will made available through website, media, peer reviewed journal and printed educational materials. GIS mapping of Barail hills showing regions of high herpetofaunal diversity will help in suggestion of new conservation strategy. Scientific report of the findings will be prepared and submitted to forest department, funding agency and relevant scientific organizations.
It is being expected that the study will bring out valuable information regarding herpetofaunal assemblage as well as distribution pattern across various habitat types and at different altitudinal grades in the hill range, which in turn help in identification of Zones of high species richness. This will enable management authorities to formulate habitat conservation action plan. Identification of threatened taxa and species in immediate need of conservation measure will enable scientific and management bodies to initiate species-specific conservation action plan. The outreach program will help in awareness among local villagers and forest staff’s of newly declared Barail Wildlife Sanctuary (June 2004: area 326 sq. Km.) and help motivate young graduate students to take up crucial issue of herpetofaunal conservation.
This project is part of a range of projects run by Aaranyak.