Cheer pheasants in Bajura

Cheer pheasants in a forest of Badimalika Municipality. Photo Courtesy: Ganga Shah and Hari Basnet
BAJURA: Around two dozen birds of the endangered cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichii) species were recently found in a forest in Badimalika Municipality of Bajura district. A research conducted recently has also found that such birds could be found in other places of the district as well. Activists from the Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF) have found the vulnerable bird species. This is the first time any cheer pheasant was recorded in the district so far. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973 has provided it the status of a protected bird. Though poaching and smuggling of the bird is illegal as per the 1973 law, locals are frequently involved in such activities, according to local Laxmi Raj Padhya. Meanwhile, an SMCRF research has concluded that the region is very suitable for habitation of this species and therefore many birds could be found in the course of research. However, the research has warned of extinction if they were not conserved well. A research team member Ganga Shah said the bird species can be found west of Kaligandari River, in various districts of Far-Western Region. According to him, only around 2,700 cheer pheasants are alive in the world and they are only found in Nepal, India and Pakistan. A data book published in late 1950s has mentioned that less than 1,000 cheer pheasants were found in Nepal. No other comprehensive study, however, has been found since then.