As part of ecosystem management component under KSLCDI, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, Uttarakhand Forest Department and The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), are organising a workshop on, “Developing strategies for minimising human-wildlife conflict, control of illegal wildlife trade and developing management interphase between ASKOT Wildlife Sanctuary and Api Nampa Conservation Area” from 3-5 December 2015, at Pithoragarh, Dehradun, India.
Pithoragarh district, in the state of Uttarakhand, is flanked by Darchula and Baitadi districts in far western Nepal, on the east by Pulan County, and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of P.R. China to its north. The district is inhabited mostly by the agro-pastoral communities who depend heavily on the forests and forest products to earn their livelihoods. Like most of the hill districts in India and Nepal, Pithoragarh faces severe challenges in terms of degradation of natural ecosystems, inadequate infrastructure for health and education, lack of participatory approaches to management of natural resources, increasing human-wildlife conflicts, and illegal trade in wildlife products.
Human-wildlife (HW) conflict and illegal trade are among the most pressing issues of conservation in this landscape primarily because forests and natural habitats are interspersed with human habitations and agricultural land which act as refuge for wildlife species which are involved in crop/livestock depredations. Species such as the rhesus macaque, wild pig, porcupine, common leopard and Asiatic black bear are involved in negative interactions with humans in this landscape. Local communities suffer from the economic losses due to crop/livestock depredations by wildlife and have been using some indigenous protection measures to reduce losses. KSL encompasses the international borders of India, Nepal and China where curbing the illegal wildlife trade is a major management issue. Natural resources of the region are seriously depleting due to ever increasing demand of plant and animal parts and products in the international markets. The rugged and mountainous border between India and Nepal has been a major concern as it is one of the most active illegal wildlife trade routes. Several species of flora and fauna are being illegally collected or poached and smuggled out of wilderness areas of the KSL region. Species such as the snow and common leopards (for skin & bones), black bear (for gall bladder), musk deer (for musk), caterpillar fungus, several MAPs are serious threatened due to the illegal wildlife trade. Forest and wildlife departments, whose primary mandate to protect species and curb illegal wildlife trade, are often constrained due to poor intelligence gathering, lack of manpower, and lack of coordination between line agencies. The KSL region has resident as well as floating human populations making it extremely difficult to monitor illegal wildlife trade.
The key objectives of the above workshop are: