Project History & Aims
WPA is a registered charity founded in 1975 which aims to develop and promote the conservation of all the species within the order of the Galliformes, otherwise known as the gamebirds of the world, some of which are the most beautiful, yet threatened, birds in the world.
WPA’s focus is the conservation of all 286 species of Galliformes, both in the wild and through captive conservation programmes, together with their habitats and ecosystems.
Galliformes are very important to humans globally and can indicate the health of an ecosystem. WPA works to maintain their natural habitats and the cultural values and the livelihoods of communities that depend on them.
The WPA currently co-ordinate nine projects from black grouse research in the UK to conserving the Edwards’s pheasant in Vietnam. Details of two of their projects are detailed below:
Pipar Project – Nepal
The Himalayas in Nepal are home to WPA’s longest running project, the Pipar Project. It is a community-based conservation project based around Pipar in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Since 1979, WPA has been monitoring Pipar’s forests and Galliformes, and providing support for villages and schools in the surrounding area. The forest surveys are now carried out by WPA’s affiliate in Nepal: Bird Conservation Nepal.
The Pipar reserve is in an area of rhododendron, pine, rock and grassland situated high (3000-3500m) in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas in central Nepal, within the boundary of the Annapurna Conservation Area. It is situated north of Pokhara in the shadow of the beautiful ‘Fishtail Mountain’ called Machapuchare (6993m).
The Pipar reserve is the only known location where five of Nepal’s six pheasant occur within such a narrow altitude belt.
Local people have lived alongside the Pipar forest in a sustainable manner; however, increasing dependence on the forest as a source of produce for both personal and commercial use is increasing. Anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems within Pipar include grazing, over-exploitation of non-timber forest products (e.g. Yarsagumba), and poaching.
Improving awareness and involvement of local communities is vital to tackling these issues and lies at the core of the Pipar Project. One such method is to encourage local people to hunt and collect outside of the breeding season, and to prohibit outsiders from entering and exploiting the forest.
WPA started by supporting the Danfe school in the village of Keruwa closest to Pipar. The idea being that by supporting the communities closest to Pipar through education, local people would trust the WPA and be willing to protect the habitat. WPA support in the area has grown to include a further eight schools along the Seti Khola valley.
Recent forest surveys indicate that the forest remains largely unspoilt and the pheasant numbers stable. WPA’s support for the schools in the area has vastly improved the availability of education to many children, many of whom had to walk up to four hours to get to school or did not attend at all. The project has been a success, with local people in the Pipar area wanting to preserve the habitat for their benefit and for the benefit of all the wildlife within it.
Edwards’s Pheasant – Vietnam
In 1994, it was believed that the Edwards’s pheasant (Lophura edwardsi) was extinct in the wild, although there was a sizeable captive population in captivity, descended mainly from a small group of birds brought to Europe in the 1920s. At this time, WPA had been working closely with Hanoi Zoo and providing a lot of training and support for their pheasant breeding programmes. WPA in the UK decided to offer four pairs of captive Edwards’s pheasants to Hanoi Zoo so that the species could at least be seen in its homeland. The birds survived well and bred regularly, enabling interesting comparisons to be made between the recently discovered Vietnamese pheasant (Lophura hatinhensis) and the Edwards’s. More importantly, when a male Edwards was captured in the wild and eventually taken to Hanoi Zoo, there were females available for him to breed with.
The DNA from this male and his progeny form an extremely important part of WPA’s current DNA research into this species, which has again been suggested may be extinct in the wild. This DNA research will determine which birds within the captive population are the most useful for any reintroduction or reinforcement programme.
How is Banham Zoo supporting the World Pheasant Association?
In 2017 Banham Zoo donated £50 to the World Pheasant Association and through the generosity of our visitors have donated a total of £405 in the past 5 years through our WPA collection box.
For further information on the work of the WPA go to www.pheasant.org.uk.
Photos courtesy of the World Pheasant Association.