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10 Dec 2018 | News

Fostering Regional Cooperation for Primate Conservation and Research in the Far-Eastern Himalaya

The Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape Initiative (HI-LIFE) of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organized a technical session on regional cooperation for primate conservation in the far-eastern Himalayan landscape (FHL) and a side-meeting for regional monitoring of flagship species in the FHL. The sessions were organized during the 6th Asian Primates Symposium and 5th Asian (Indo-Chinese) Primates Conservation Symposium from 19–22 October 2018 in Dali, China, in collaboration with the Institute of Eastern-Himalaya Biodiversity Research of Dali University.

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Frank Momberg from Fauna and Flora International, Myanmar highlighted the need to study the commercial wildlife trade

The meetings involved protected area managers, scholars, and experts from within and outside the landscape and explored opportunities and constraints associated with research and conservation of primates in Asia. Information on the conservation status of primates, particularly gibbons, and associated monitoring trends was exchanged. Participants also shared information on habitat suitability assessments, the feeding habits of primates, and the need to develop a technical manual for transboundary collaboration for monitoring and information sharing in the landscape.

The symposium fostered partnership at the regional level among technical experts to address country-specific conservation and development challenges and opportunities. It discussed the need for developing standardized management protocols, the importance of research on trade in wildlife and medicinal plants, and illegal logging in the landscape. Experts suggested coming up with a habitat monitoring plan, establishing joint patrolling across the border, and monitoring forest wildfire. The participants agreed that camera traps, especially in trees, can be highly effective in monitoring and conservation. The data generated from camera traps can be assembled into models to estimate the distribution and occupancy of species. It was agreed that a multi-scale approach is required for modelling and that a data-sharing platform will be required once the modelling has been completed.

Participants noted that a China-Myanmar biodiversity expedition could bring botanists and zoologists together to plan future interventions. Participants identified the need for mapping scientists and their working sites as well as their specializations in terms of the key species and research focus. ICIMOD is working on a special publication titled “Primates of the Far-Eastern Himalayan Landscape” based on articles submitted by the participants. Dilip Chetry from Aaranyak, India announced that a similar event is scheduled to take place in 2019 in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Professor Yuzuru Hamada from the Primate Institute, Kyoto University, Japan delivered the opening statement

Events such as these contribute significantly to collaboration among national partners in the FHL and lay the foundation for carrying out joint monitoring of endangered plant and animal species that are found across the landscape. A regional platform could support national and regional conservation policies and activities. ICIMOD could also host similar sessions on HKH primates at other events in the future, as primates are among the flagship species in several areas where ICIMOD and its partners work.

Over 100 representatives from member countries and international organizations participated in the events, including China (Institute of Eastern-Himalaya Biodiversity Research, Dali University and Central South University of Forestry and Technology), India (Aaranyak, GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development, Wildlife Institute of India, and Tezpur University), and Myanmar (Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division – Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, University of Mandalay, and Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary). There were representatives from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna and Flora International, the German Primate Center, and Tribhuvan University (Nepal).

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