The research team accompanied by Executive Director and ADM/HR coordinator of RSPN visited Hararongchu from September 7 – 10, 2017 to monitor the existing WBH along the river stretching from Taksha till Dayou village. Hararongchu, is one of the primary habitats for the critically endangered White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) (WBH) with three individuals recorded during the Annual population survey, 2017.
The ecosystem along the Hararongchu is pristine and undisturbed and has harbored WBH since decades. People in the past used to sight 7-8 individuals of WBH daily but the number of sightings have drastically declined over the years. The forestry officials and community people still share sightings of WBH along the Hararongchu but the team could not to spot any WBH during the visit.
It was, nonetheless, encouraging to see insulated transmission lines connecting the communities which in turn helps to reduce electrocution of avian species especially the WBH. Another positive observation was the proper waste management practiced by the communities living along Hararongchu.
The whole community depends on fishing for their livelihoods and one potential threat to the survival of WBH could be the possibility of extensive fishing. At present, about 27 kilometers stretch of the river has been legalized for fishing, which according to Mr. Penjor, WBH Local Conservation Support Group (LCSG) member and Mr. Ngawang, forest Ranger, is unsustainable and enough for the community and the WBH in the area.
However, there is a need to support the communities with improved fish ponds and introduction of high yield crops, to reduce the pressure on fishing in the long run. Other options to improve the livelihoods of the people and support WBH conservation could be introduction of ecotourism trail and homestays programs.