Developing the National Biodiversity Databank and Red List of Mammals in Nepal


Nepal is a highly diverse and unique country harbouring an extraordinary variety of landscapes, cultures and wildlife. The Red List of Mammals of Nepal was published in 2010, providing for the first time, a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the national conservation status of the 208 species of Nepalese mammals.

This publication is intended to have the following outputs for conservation:

  • providing a baseline for further assessments, monitoring changes in mammal status by calculating the National Mammal Red List Index for Nepal and also informing and measuring the success of conservation projects that have already been implemented.
  • influence the implementation of national legislation and policies, and international conventions in Nepal.
  • stimulate monitoring and research on data deficient taxa
  • contribute to the growth and updating of the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Below is an outline of the process that was undertaken to create the Red List of Mammals

Stage 1 – Drawing up a comprehensive species list and species information

Work began in late in 2009 with the initial task to establish a comprehensive taxonomic list of the mammals of Nepal and, once this was drawn up, to collate information for each species.

Online journals and other literature were searched and a wealth of country specific species information was available in Nepal itself, often held within the libraries of the local organisations such as the Government of Nepal Ministry of Forests and Soils, WWF Nepal, IUCN Nepal, NTNC and also the local universities.

With so many studies and so many species it is very rare to find studies that have followed the same methods, standards and consistencies. But one of the outcomes of the Red List is to facilitate research in the areas where it is most needed and guide those undertaking it to follow repeatable processes.

The IUCN Categories and Criteria was used for this project, and project staff, before starting any species reports, familiarised themselves with the assessment process that would be used to assess the species conservation status. Advice and support was sought from the Red List Team at ZSL and from other people with previous experience of the red listing process.

The Nepal project team was made up of four staff, and a national Red List project steering committee was setup that included members of the Government of Nepal Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF.

Stage 2 – Species reports

The next step was to undertake the main task of creating species reports – compiling all the collected information and inputting it into the Red List database. The species information search was an ongoing process, as was communicating with species specialists and field staff within Nepal.

One of the challenges during this stage of the project was drawing up population estimates for a number of species, especially the less known taxa such as rodents and bats or charismatic species, for which there was no or little information on population abundance.

Stage 3 – Technician’s workshop

The first workshop for the Nepal Red Data Lists project was held in January 2010 at the National Trust for Nature Conservation’s Biodiversity Conservation Centre in Chitwan National Park. This was specifically aimed at field staff and technicians, and covered a selected number of species that technicians would be aware of. It was intended to provide an opportunity for field technicians, to share their wealth of species-based knowledge, and as most of this information is not published in any papers or scientific literature, this was a key part of the National Red Listing process.

This workshop was vital to fill in species information gaps, as many of the participants were in the field every day and have over 20-30 years of knowledge and experience that would go unrecorded. During the first day of the workshop participants were split into different working groups to work on selected species, however, these groups were rotated so that all participants had the opportunity to comment on all species. During the second day, morning presentations were given by group leaders to review the information collected and to give a final opportunity for comments. Then the species for which there was a lot of information were reviewed by the whole group. These included the tiger, leopard, snow leopard, river dolphin, blackbuck and wild water buffalo.

As a result of the work shop it was possible to collect a lot of information including more exact details of species distribution. It also created a network of field staff and technicians supporting the national Red List process.

Stage 4 – Compilation of preliminary reports

Preliminary species reports were completed using all available information: literature searches, unpublished and published reports and personal communications with local scientists and field technicians.

Stage 5 – Red Listing workshop

The National Workshop for the Red List of Nepal Mammals was held April 7th and 8th 2010 in Lalitpur, Nepal, for the final and formal species assessments. Fourty participants attended the two day workshop, coming from different organisations and with different backgrounds in species conservation, and those who have worked across Nepal. During the workshop the conservation status of over 200 species of mammals were reviewed and final conservation assessments applied with main threats and recommendations for each species.

As part of the preparations for the workshop, participants had been sent species reports ahead of the workshop and asked for their review and any further input. Additional information was then inserted into species reports ahead of the workshop.

The workshop concluded with a summary of the assessments made during the workshop and it was the first time that Nepali species had been looked at as a whole bringing to attention to the fact that almost 25% of all mammal species in Nepal are considered threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable). The workshop also highlighted that the small mammals were the most underrepresented group of species with 50% listed as Data Deficient. One of the most important outputs of the workshop was the recommendations made for each species and, post-workshop, using this information for effective species conservation.

Stage 6 – Final publication

The final publication of The Status of Nepal’s Mammals: The National Red List Series was successfully published at the end of 2010.

The Status of Nepal’s Mammals was only possible due to the contribution of many committed scientists and conservationists, and the close collaboration between: the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation; the National Trust for Nature Conservation; the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and the Zoological Society of London.