Transboundary disputes are posing risk to Himalayan wildlife

Published on March 12, 2023 by

Boundary disputes along international borders of India poses risk to Himalayan wildlife.

Bengaluru March12: Paridhi Jain

As per the high-altitude ecology scientists, army camp settlements in Himalayan landscapes like Changthang, Siachin and Gurudongmar poses risk to most of the high-altitude species like Snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Brown bear, Kiang and associated trans- Himalayan species. Linear barriers and armed conflicts in wildlife habitats limits access to food and water resources.

As per the paper published 2021 in Wiley, globally border disputes, affects 78 percent of mammals and 85 % terrestrial birds within their range. As per the experts, Tibetan gazelle, entire population from Indian side is gone. Kashmir Markhor only 100 individuals are left.

Dr Kulbushan Singh Suryawanshi is a Scientist with High altitude programme in Nature conservation Foundation (NCF). According to him, “The current transboundary disputes affecting the species is with Pakistan and China. When conflict happens, army has to put camps in the forward areas. It affects the water sources for the key wildlife. Also, the garbage disposal is generated which attracts a large no of feral dogs, which is another threat to wildlife.”

Global snow leopard and Ecosystem protection programme (GSLEP) is working in collaboration between environmental ministries of various countries to facilitate policy level decisions on wildlife conservation.   Dr Koustoub Sharma, International coordinator of GSLEP programme, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan explained the management interventions by GSLEP programme in the Trans Himalayan studies.  He says, “In 2014, after GSLEP came into existence, countries were requested to identify priority landscapes for snow leopard. Each country identified up to three landscapes. Most of this landscape have their own management regimes and we have also helped them create climate smart management plans.”

As per the experts from NCF, territorial disputes have increased in some areas particularly after the Galwan valley clashes. Such incidents cause disturbances to the vulnerable species of the Himalayan landscape.

Dr Aishwarya Maheshwari is an independent wildlife scientist and author of several high-altitude publications. He has also authored the Letter to Science in which he proposes establishment of peace parks where countries share wildlife habitats.

He says, “We have to work in more collaboration between various countries. A joint collaborative exercise in terms of monitoring and illegal wildlife trade is needed.  A framework is needed in which research and findings are shared between countries.”

According to GSLEP, we would have to work jointly with local communities and army as the stakeholders to solve this issue. Knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices will help conserve wildlife habitats.


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