Dhurba Sagar Sharma,

Galeshwor (Myagdi), Sept 11: Cheer pheasants have reached the stage of disappearance from the western belt of the Kaligandaki area in Myagdi district. Factors like their limited numbers, the dwindling habitat, low reproductive capacity and poaching are blamed for their disappearance. 

There were around 60 cheer pheasants in the area, said Keshab Chokhal of the Central Department of Zoology, the Tribhuvan University, who carried out a research on birds five years ago. Their number has now decreased, he claimed. 

The bird species are a friend of farmers, he said. They help farmers by preying on insects that destroy crops as their habitat is arable lands. Lately, the birds have been targeted and killed by local people, he said. Their repeated calls to the Division Forest Office for the protection of the bird have fallen on deaf ears, he said. 

Participatory programmes should be launched in the local community to protect the birds, he suggested. 

Efforts are on to carry out a study on the situation of the bird and launch an awareness programme with the engagement of the local community in collaboration and cooperation with the Institute of Science and Technology, TU, he added. 

"Cheer pheasants are found along the banks of the Kaligandaki river. They are particularly found in Daduwa, Thaibang, Hidi, Muna, Mudi and Khibang." In general, their breeding season begins from April\May. The perennial incidents of wildfires and environmental imbalance are among the factors that have pushed the bird species considered endangered to the verge of extinction, he said. 

The bird locally known as cheer kalij or Chedu bird is placed in Group 'I' in the CITES Declaration and the IUCN. It is listed as a protected bird in the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. Found in the lands at an elevation of 1,400 metres to 3,600 metres above sea level, the number of the bird is around 1,000 in Nepal with 50 to 60 in Myagdi district alone.(RSS)