The Himalayas in Nepal are home to WPA's longest running project, the Pipar Project. It is a community-based conservation project based around Pipar in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Since 1979, WPA has been monitoring Pipar's forests and Galliformes, and providing support for villages and schools in the surrounding area. The forest surveys are now carried out by WPA's affiliate in Nepal- Bird Conservation Nepal.
Project commenced: 1979
The Pipar reserve is in an area of Rhododendron, pine, rock and grassland situated high (3000-3500m) in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas in central Nepal, within the boundary of the Annapurna Conservation Area. It is situated northof Pokhara in the shadow of the beautiful 'Fishtail Mountain' called Machapuchare (6993m).
The project area includes all the forest below Pipar down to 1000m, where the only access route to it begins beside a new school in the village of Keruwa. The large altitudinal range of the area, from over 8000m near the top of the mountains to 1000m near the villages, occurs over a short horizontal distance of 35km. This sudden change of altitude over such a small area results in a mosaic of vegetation types and diversity. The Pipar reserve is the only known location where five of Nepal' six pheasant occur within such a narrow altitude belt.
Human threats in Pipar have been relatively low in the past and are considered to have had little impact on local wildlife. Local people have lived alongside the Pipar forest in a sustainable manner; however, increasing dependence on the forest as a source of produce for both personal and commercial use is increasing. Anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems within Pipar include grazing, over-exploitation of non-timber forest products (e.g. Yarsagumba), and poaching.
Improving awareness and involvement of local communities is vital to tackling these issues and lies at the core of the Pipar Project. One such method is to encourage local people to hunt and collect outside of the breeding season, and to prohibit outsiders from entering and exploiting the forest.
WPA started by supporting the Danfe school in the village of Keruwa closest to Pipar. The idea being that by supporting the communities closest to Pipar through education, local people would trust the WPA and be willing to protect the habitat.
WPA support in the area has grown to include a further eight schools along the Seti Khola valley. Funding has mainly been used to support the nine schools in the project area, but it has also been used to improve the environmental awareness of local people and to discourage local hunters from commercial trapping in Pipar. Funding for the schools has been used to support teachers, provide furniture and materials, and to build new classrooms, toilet blocks and compound walls.
Jimmy Roberts Memorial Fund
Colonel Jimmy Roberts was the chairman of WPA Nepal and was pivotal to the Pipar Project. The Pipar areas was discovered in 1977 by Jhalak Thapa who was searching for a new trekking route at the request of Colonel Jimmy Roberts. After the Pipar reserve was established, Jimmy Roberts proposed that WPA should provide support for schools and education in the area, and that this would encourage local people to protect the reserve. When Jimmy Roberts died in 1997, WPA decided to set up a trust fund to continue the work he started. In 1998 the Jimmy Roberts Memorial Fund (JRMF) was established, based within the WPA charity. JRMF currently spends about £4000-£5000 per year on Pipar schools, and this funding goes a long way in Nepal!
Recent forest surveys indicate that the forest remains largely unspoilt and the pheasant numbers stable. WPA's support for the schools in the area has vastly improved the availability of education to many children, many of whom pervasively had to walk up to four hours to get to school or did not attend at all. The project has been a success, with local people in the Pipar area wanting to preserve the habitat for their benefit and for the benefit of all the wildlife within it.
Blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
Himalayan monal Lophophorus impejanus
Koklass pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha
Satyr tragopan Tragopan satyra
Kalij pheasant Lophura leucomelanos
Cheer pheasant Catreus wallichii
Himalayan snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis
Snow partridge Lerwa lerwa
Chukar Alectoris chukar
Rufous-throated partridge Arborophila rufogularis
Tibetan partridge Perdix hogsoniae
Common hill-partridge Arborophila torqueola
Black francolin Francolinus francolinus
227 bird species from 33 families, including Wood snipe Gallinago nemoricola, white-rumped vulture Gyps bengalensis, yellow-rumped honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus, cinereous vulture Aegypius monachus and hoary-throated barwing Actinodura nipalensis.
Himalayan black bear Ursos thibetanus, Himalayan tahr Hemitragus jemlahcus, musk deer Moschus chrysogaster, common leopard Panthera pardus and Indian porcupine Hystrix indica.