Mountain Survey of Amphibians and Reptiles and their Conservation Status in Manaslu Conservation Area, Gorkha District, Western Nepal
Keywords:Amphibians, reptiles, visual encounter survey, patch sampling, opportunistic observation, photo-elicitation technique, Himalayan rock lizard, Hodgson's racer, paha
Aim The Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA), a geographically diverse protected area, is known for high diversity of flowering plants and endemism. However, information about status of herpetofauna is limited. This study aims to fill this gap by updating diversity and distribution of herpetofauna of the MCA.
Location Sirdibas, Bihi and Prok Village Development Committees (VDCs), Gorkha district, Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA).
Materials and methods We used a multi-prolonged strategy combining visual encounter survey (VES) along six transects (500m each) in Sirdibas, Bihi and Prok VDCs, patch sampling (PS) in two sites in Ghap and Prok VDCs and opportunistic observations (OO) along trekking trails from Sirdibas to Prok to document the presence of herpetofauna. We conducted questionnaire survey using photo-elicitation technique (PET) (n=30) to collect ethnoherpetological data.
Key Findings We prepared a checklist of 22 species of amphibian and reptile by verification of data from VES, PS, OO and literature review. The Himalayan rock lizard, Laudakia tuberculata was common in all the study sites. The Hodgson’s racer - Elaphe hodgsonii was first described in the study area. The abundance of herpetofauna species decreased with increasing elevation (r = -0.53, P < 0.01). There was a positive association between species abundances and temperature (r = 0.49, P < 0.01). The ethnoherpetological survey revealed that the stream frogs locally called ‘Paha’ (genus ‘Amolops’, ‘Chaparana’ and ‘Paa’) were commonly consumed for food and presumed health benefits. This may impose a serious threat. We recommend similar systematic study to document and describe herpetofauna in the region.