Royal Bengal Tiger photographed in Biological Corridors
A female tiger (Panthera tigris) with two young cubs was photographed on June 10, 2012 at 1410 hrs. The photograph was captured by camera traps from Chungshing top under Jigmecholing geog at 1700 meters, inside the Biological Corridors connecting Royal Manas National Park and Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park to Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary. In the same corridor, a lone Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) was photographed at 2121 meters above sea level. The park officials involved in the Biological Corridor survey indicate that the tiger photographic evidence is first of its kind in the biological corridors of Bhutan while red panda evidence might be first record in the southern foothills.
Royal Manas National Park initiated Biological Corridor functionality assessment under the project titled â€˜Enhancing Tiger Conservation in Greater Manasâ€™. The staffs of Sarpang and Samdrupjongkhar Territorial Divisions were involved in the survey. The survey conducted in May to June, 2012 covered biological corridors connecting Royal Manas National Park to Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary. The survey was intended to assess functions and efficacy of biological corridors for the movement of wildlife using tiger as the focal species. In a month long survey by a team each in each corridor, as many as 20 medium to large mammal species were recorded by picture evidences and few other by indirect evidences. The picture record include Clouded leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Gaur, Leopard cat, Marbled Cat, Civets, Asiatic elephant, Sambar and Barking deer.
While biological corridors were found amazingly rich in biodiversity, the survey team also noted few emerging threats that could, in the long run, undermine the purpose of biological corridors. The new township and resettlement program at Tanzema and Nanglam falls within the boundary of Biological corridor No. 5 (RMNP â€“ KWS). The proposed land use change is likely to narrow down the corridor width and accelerate human-wildlife conflict in the area. In the corridor No. 3 (RMNP-PWS), the farm road that is under construction from Jigmeling to Doban is vertically cutting through the entire corridor width. In addition to this, the proposal has been approved for construction of another farm road from Chungshing to Gong under Doban geog. This road will pass through tiger habitat and provide vertical barrier for tiger movement along the biological corridors. One of the constraints that the biological corridors in Bhutan suffer today is first expansion of adjoining settlements and logical shrinkage of corridor width. With more anthropogenic chokepoints and barrier taking place within the corridors, the intended functions might inevitably get defeated in the long run.
As a part of landscape tiger conservation initiatives, RMNP is planning to monitor these two corridors in coordination with the concern territorial divisions until the management plan is put in place. More camera traps exercise will be conducted to see consistent use of corridors by Tiger and the other co-predators. The fund for initial study was jointly supported by Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF, Bhutan.
-Â Submitted by: Royal Manas National park, Gelephu, Sarpang