Located at the heart of Terai Arc Landscape along the Himalayan foothills, Nandhor valley in Uttarakhand has caught the attention of National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) for its potential of a good tiger habitat.
The Standing Committee of the board in its last meeting favoured its declaration into a protected area at the earliest. In its recent camera trapping WWF studies found at least four tigers in the area.
According to Dr AJT Johnsingh, member of the NBWL Standing Committee, Nandhor area has been found to have good tiger presence and if protected, it can become as successful as Corbett National Park. “Protection was crucial, as a particular local community inhabiting the area was known to indulge in hunting.” he added.
Spanning an area of about 18,00sq. km is spread out in Haldwani, Terai east and Champawat forest divisions, with the Gola, Kilpura-Khatima-Surai and Boom-Bhramdev wildlife corridors.
The vegetation of the Nandhor valley forests comprises a mosaic of dry and moist deciduous forests with traces of temperate forests towards the higher elevation areas.
“This landscape still holds potential for the conservation of tigers, as it has nearly 1,000 sqkm of tiger habitat that needs better protection”, the experts pointed out.
The area is also well connected with the forests in Nepal across the Sharada river on the eastern side and it continues till the eastern part of Sukhlaphanta Wildlife Reserve, they added.
According to Joseph Vattakaven, Tiger-Coordinator, WWF-India, “Tigers once had a wide distribution across the Nandhor valley. They have, however, been exterminated due to various causes driven by adverse human impacts. But with protection and connectivity in place, tigers will rebound and provide us with a wonderful opportunity to increase their numbers.”
Occupancy surveys and camera trapping completed in parts of Chakata and Nandhor ranges of Haldwani forest division have revealed tigers in both the ranges with multiple captures of four tiger individuals being recorded.
A large male tiger along with the trapping of a tigress with her two sub-adult cubs indicates the great potential of the area as a breeding ground for tigers. Among the other significant species caught on the cameras are the Himalayan black bear amongst others which are usually found at higher altitudes.
“This landscape can house a breeding population of 40-50 tigers, but poaching by local communities of prey species and occasionally tigers is potentially a major cause of absence of tigers in this area”, Joseph added.