Conservation of Bugun Liocichla by the Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee, Arunachal Pradesh
The Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve lies in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh, in the Eastern Himalayas, is home to the Bugun Liocichla (Liocichla bugunorum), a critically endangered bird under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This endemic bird was first sighted at the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in 1995 by Dr. Ramana Athreya. The body of the bird is olive-grey in colour, with a black cap and golden fringes on its wings.
Need for the Initiative
The total population of Bugun Liocichla is estimated between 50-249 mature individuals, with a decreasing trend in the population (BirdLife International, 2018). Approximately, 15-20 birds out of the total population are found in the Singchug village community forests. It is the only new bird species to have been discovered in India after 1947 and has been named in the honor of the Bugun community of Singchung village. The Bugun Liocichla is threatened by loss of habitat due to timber extraction, forest clearance for agriculture and plantations and infrastructure development. The community forest is not only home to the Bugun Liocichla, but also to a vast variety of significant flora and fauna.
Conservation Initiatives and Impacts
Given the dependence of the community on its natural resources, the Bugun community established the Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve (SBVCR), adjoining the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in the year 2012. The community has traditionally managed these lands for centuries and has inculcated detailed knowledge of the terrain, land use patterns and the prime habitats for endangered species in the landscape. This steered the demarcation of the boundaries of the SBVCR. It consists of a core zone spread over 17sq.km which is part of a larger conservation area spread across 40 sq.km. It is governed by the Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Committee (SBVCRC), comprising Bugun members in its governing council, representatives from academic and research institutions as advisory members and the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) as an ex-officio member who facilitates in the implementation of conservation initiatives. The Bugun youth from Singchung village have been employed as monitoring and patrolling staff of the SBVCR. They have been trained in anti-poaching and patrolling activities by members of the Special Task Force of the Tamil Nadu police specializing in forest operations. Traditional knowledge of access routes, terrain, and tracking skills has ensured effective implementation of such operations. SBVCR partnered with government and academic institutions to hold wildlife and conservation awareness camps and workshops for school students and teachers, in Singchung and surrounding villages, during National Wildlife Week (October) from 2013-2017. The staff of the SBVCR has been trained in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and continues to rescue wildlife from villages to release into the wild. A community-based wildlife tourism program that caters to both national and international birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts was initiated by members of the Singchung Village Council. The detailed knowledge of the spatial and seasonal distribution of wildlife and biodiversity has boosted wildlife-based tourism, with many local individuals serving as expert wildlife guides. Traditional knowledge of minimally invasive techniques of construction and maintenance have helped to create an eco-friendly and low impact infrastructure. The annual number of tourists and infrastructure development is limited for effective management of the area. The hallmark of this program is high income from tourism with low ecological impact. The initiative not only contributes to conserving the Bugun Liocichla but also to preserve forests in the nearby watershed areas, thereby ensuring the supply of clean water and preventing landslides. The committee further hopes to create a self-sustained system in which more community members take center stage in the reserve’s management so as to reduce dependence on the Forest Department.
Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards
The Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve Management Committee (SBVCRMC) won the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Conservation of Species in Wild’ in 2018.
Contact - Mr. Millo Tasser, IFS. Tel. +91 8415980465 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org