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Raptor Migration Study in Nepal

There are around 557 raptor species, representing 5% of all wild birds. Among these 58% are diurnal while 42% are nocturnal species. Out of 321 species of diurnal raptors, Nepal supports a total of 60 species. This is due to the rugged topography, diverse vegetation and great altitudinal variation and to the zoogeography of the country. According to BirdLife International five species of vulture, five species of eagle and one species of falcon found in Nepal are listed as globally threatened. Recent reports indicate that 48% of raptors in Nepal are nationally threatened. In Nepal, approximately 22 species of raptors are winter visitors. Raptor migration study from the migration corridor is an effective means to assess regional population trends for a number of species. Since the early 1980s, only a handful of partial migration counts estimate 10,000 to 40,000 Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis as well as 15 to 30 different raptor species migrating here each autumn from the south of Annapurna. Much remains to be discovered about trans-Himalayan migration. Therefore, we propose to conduct several years of raptor migration study along the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Nepalese Ornithological Union has started this research in 2011 and will be continued for at least 10 years. We believe this study will fulfil the long research gap of raptor migration research in Nepal and will be an excellent comparison with research done previously.

Our primary research objective is to

  1. Determine the extent, timing and age class migration phenology of the Steppe Eagle and other grating species.
  2. Determine population size and trend for many raptors including the Steppe eagle.
  3. Evaluating changes in grassland habitats in the Far East.
  4. Collect data on flock size and the age structure of resident vultures in the region, as well as identify and count migratory vultures as they pass the watch site.