Remote Pangi Valley bustles with faunal diversity

Census by state wildlife wing in Sechu Tuan Nalla sanctuary last month finds rare species of Himalayan brown bear, snow leopard, musk deer, long tailed marmot, red fox and Royle’s pika apart from 50 species of birds
Updated on Aug 21, 2019 10:54 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Dharamshala | By

Locked between the Greater Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range, the remote Pangi Valley in Chamba district is home to rich faunal diversity amid its rugged grandeur and austere beauty.

Last month, the Himachal Pradesh forest department’s wildlife wing conducted a census in the 390-sq km Sechun Tuan Nalla Wildlife Sanctuary at Pangi, which remains is cut off for eight months in a year, and found rare species of the Himalayan brown bear and white-bellied musk deer. While the brown bear is categorised as a critically endangered species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of threatened species, musk deer is listed as endangered.

Sharing details about the census conducted from July 1 to 4 in the Pangi Valley, 450km from Shimla, Nishant Mandhotra, the divisional forest officer (DFO), wildlife, Chamba, says, “The census is important for any protected area as it gives an idea of the population of a particular species and is a tool to carry out conservation. Twenty-seven people, including forest officials, guards and volunteers were divided into five teams and they scoured the sanctuary to carry out the census.”

Bipin C Rathore, a wildlife expert who has done extensive research on the brown bear says that the species was facing extinction as its habitat was rapidly shrinking due to developmental activities. In India, it is found only in the forests of Chamba district, including Kugti, Tundah and Sechu Tuan sanctuaries.

The musk deer faces threat due to hunting for the musk pod, a gland found in the male deer, which is used in making perfumes, incense material and medicines.

Other prominent species sighted during the census were the Himalayan ibex, red fox, Royle’s Pika and Himalayan stoat.

“An unusual discovery was the long-tailed marmot. The species was sighted for first time in Sechu Tuan. Earlier, there was no documentary evidence of its presence in the area, though it is found in abundance in Ladakh,” said Mandhotra.

The DFO said that the snow leopard was also spotted in the sanctuary. “There was no direct sighting but it was clicked by camera traps,” he said.

Apart from it, the survey teams recorded more than 50 species of birds, most of which were directly sighted except the Himalayan monal and koklass pheasant. They were identified based on their calls.

“Twelve species of butterflies and two reptile species were also found,” said Madhotra, adding that as far as floral diversity is concerned 35 kinds of herbs and shrubs were reported by the teams.

The census was conducted through line transect method in which the survey team move along a single line and species touching along the whole length of transact line are recorded. Another method adopted was total count in which the teams counted the total individuals of a particular species found during the survey.


    Naresh K Thakur is a staff reporter in Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. Based at Dharamshala, he covers Tibetan affairs, local politics and environmental issues.

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