Experts call to step up conservation efforts

  • small mammals
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 28, 2017-

The South Asian Conference on small mammals kicked off in the Capital on Sunday, with calls for more efforts towards conservation of these species.

The conference—the first ever in the region with a focus on small mammals—is jointly organised by Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF) and MoFSC with support from other organisations. 

The three-day event has drawn nearly 60 wildlife researchers, experts, policy makers from 10 countries, who have raised concerns over inadequate efforts despite the region boasting various species of small mammals.

Of the total 513 species of mammals found in South Asia, 332 are small mammals like pangolin, bats, squirrels, rats and fishing cats, among others.

Calling small mammals as ‘hidden treasure’, Director General of the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) Man Bahadur Khadka said, “While the world focuses on large animals, many valuable small animals go unnoticed. They have significant role in the ecosystem as they are prey for big animals.”

Wildlife conservationists also pointed that it was not only big animals facing threat but even small mammals are on the verge of extinction. 

Dr Chelmala Srinivasulu, wildlife researcher from India, said small mammals were facing threat mainly because of habitat loss, pest control activities and illegal hunting for medicinal and local sustenance purpose. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 14 percent of the total small mammals found in South Asia or 47 species are under the threatened category, with seven species being enlisted as critically endangered. 

Former secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation Uday Raj Sharma said that small mammals were hardly talked about as much of the conservation efforts had been focused on big wild animals.

“We have shown a significant biased towards elephant, rhino and tigers. But small mammals have not received adequate conservation and research efforts,” observed Sharma. 

Participants also pointed out the need to widen the research in the field. 

Regional collaborations for research, accessing results and learning from each other’s experiences can help in conservation of small mammals, they said.    

“We still have to work on numbers. We have not done fair treatment to small mammals,” added Sharma.

Assuring support in the conservation of small mammals, member of the National Planning Commission Dr Prabhu Budhathoki suggested Nepal should be developed as a hub for research in the field. 

“The conference should share information and findings to move forward. Nepal should aim to serve as a centre for excellence for future studies. We will provide the required support,” said Budhathoki.

Published: 28-08-2017 07:34

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