The total number of mammal species found in the Annapurna conservation area has increased to 105 after researchers found three additional species—Pallas’ cat, Steppe polecat and Tibetan Himalayan wolf—in the region in 2014.
The researchers, including Senior Conservation Officer at National Trust for Nature Conservation Madhu Chhetri, found the polecat and the Himalayan wolf while the Pallas’ cat was spotted in camera trapping at an altitude of 4,600 metres in Manang. These three mammals are not recorded in other parts of the country.
“The number of mammals has increased and similar studies in the region can spot other animal species as well,” said Paras Bikram Shah, conservation officer at the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). The region with various species, including snow leopard, wild donkey and musk deer, is said to be a suitable habitat for mammals.
As per the existing procedures, once a new species is found, its photos should be submitted to the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation which verifies the animal and recognises it as a new species.
The official study of biodiversity in the region, also considered to be largest conservation area in the country, was initiated by wildlife expert Prof Karan Bahadur Shah in the early 1990s. Experts, however, said more animal species can be found in the area if studies, which are traditionally focused on Manang and Mustang only, are carried out beyond the two districts. “We may find more mammals if we install cameras in the region above 5000 metres from the sea level,” conservationist Raju Acharya said.
According to Shah, 210 species of mammals have been recorded in the country till now and that more species of small mammals may be found. “The species of mouse, mole, bats and other small mammals are likely to be found in various parts of the country if detailed studies are carried out,” he said.
Researchers, meanwhile, are promoting the installation of cameras in high altitude areas for additional studies. According to ACAP, the region has 1236 species of flowering plants, 474 species of birds and 39 species of reptiles.