A Pioneer Study on Conservation Status ofA Pioneer Study on Conservation Status ofIndian rock python in Deva Vatala NationalIndian rock python in Deva Vatala NationalPark, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, PakistanPark, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, PakistanUmer Hafeez Goursi*, Muhammad Siddique Awan*,Umer Hafeez Goursi*, Muhammad Siddique Awan*,Riaz Aziz Minhas*, Muhammad Kabir **, Usman AliRiaz Aziz Minhas*, Muhammad Kabir **, Usman AliMughal*& Naeem Iftikhar Dar***Mughal*& Naeem Iftikhar Dar****Department of Zoology, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir,*Department of Zoology, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir,Muzaffarabad, **Department of Wildlife Management, PMAS Arid AgricultureMuzaffarabad, **Department of Wildlife Management, PMAS Arid Agricultureuniversity, Rawalpindi,*** Department of wild life and fisheries , AJ&Kuniversity, Rawalpindi,*** Department of wild life and fisheries , AJ&K
IntroductionIntroduction Indian pythonIndian python (Python molurus)(Python molurus) is a non-is a non-venomous python species belongs to familyvenomous python species belongs to familypythonidae of orderpythonidae of order SquamataSquamata in class reptiliain class reptilia.. There are eightThere are eight generagenera and 26and 26 speciesspecies ofofpythons currently recognized in the world.pythons currently recognized in the world.Genus Python has seven species (ITIS., 2009a;Genus Python has seven species (ITIS., 2009a;McDiarmid et al., 1999).McDiarmid et al., 1999). Indian Python has two subspecies, namely,Indian Python has two subspecies, namely,Python molurus molurusPython molurus molurus andand P. m. bivittatusP. m. bivittatus(Wall, 1912; McDiarmid(Wall, 1912; McDiarmid et al.et al., 1999), 1999)
Sub-species of Indian PythonSub-species of Indian Python Two subspecies ofTwo subspecies of P. molurusP. molurus are separated byare separated bygeographic range and certain physicalgeographic range and certain physicalcharacteristics.characteristics. P. molurus molurus (P. molurus molurus ( Indian Rock PythonIndian Rock Python ))Native to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. ,Native to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. , P. molurus bivittatusP. molurus bivittatus (Burmese python)(Burmese python)Range from Myanmar eastward across southernRange from Myanmar eastward across southernAsia through China and IndonesiaAsia through China and Indonesia((Murphy and Henderson, 1997Murphy and Henderson, 1997))
DistributionDistribution AsiaAsia India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal, Bangladesh,India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal, Bangladesh,Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, Laos,Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, Laos,Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and IndonesiaVietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia(McDiarmid(McDiarmid et alet al., 1999)., 1999) PakistanPakistan Southern Sindh, district Sanghar (Khan,Southern Sindh, district Sanghar (Khan,2006), Nawab Shaw district (Minton, 1966) .2006), Nawab Shaw district (Minton, 1966) .
Continue….Continue…. Reported from Halji Lake and Dureji.Reported from Halji Lake and Dureji.However, no authentic record of itsHowever, no authentic record of itsoccurrence is available in Punjab.occurrence is available in Punjab. The species has also been reported in DevaThe species has also been reported in DevaVatala National Park AJK by AzamVatala National Park AJK by Azam et al.et al.(2007) and Akram (2008).(2007) and Akram (2008).
StatusStatus P. molurus molurusP. molurus molurus is listed asis listed asendangered in Appendix I of (CITES).endangered in Appendix I of (CITES). Lower Risk/Near Threatened (IUCN,Lower Risk/Near Threatened (IUCN,2010)2010) Declared endangered under Schedule I ofDeclared endangered under Schedule I ofthe Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,(Mukherjee, 1982; Tikader 1983)(Mukherjee, 1982; Tikader 1983)
Aims and ObjectivesAims and Objectives DistributionDistribution Population StatusPopulation Status human-python conflicts with reference tohuman-python conflicts with reference tolivestock depredationlivestock depredation Developing GIS based informationDeveloping GIS based informationregarding species Distribution and locationregarding species Distribution and locationof livestock depredation by species in theof livestock depredation by species in thestudy areastudy area
Material and MethodsMaterial and MethodsStudy AreaStudy Area Deva Vatala National Park (study area) is located in sub-Deva Vatala National Park (study area) is located in sub-division Burnala at a distance of about 40 km east to Bhimberdivision Burnala at a distance of about 40 km east to Bhimbercity in AJKcity in AJK Deva Vatala was declared as Game Reserve in 1982, havingDeva Vatala was declared as Game Reserve in 1982, having500 ha area which was upgraded as National Park in 2007, with500 ha area which was upgraded as National Park in 2007, with2993 ha area2993 ha area Ecological importance of Deva Vatala National Park was itsEcological importance of Deva Vatala National Park was itshabitat supporting some important wildlife species e.g., Indianhabitat supporting some important wildlife species e.g., IndianRock Python (Rock Python (Python molurus molurusPython molurus molurus), Red Jungle Fowl), Red Jungle Fowl(Gallas gallas murghi)(Gallas gallas murghi), , Nilgai (, , Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus)Boselaphus tragocamelus),,Barking deer deerBarking deer deer (Muntiacus muntjak)(Muntiacus muntjak), Indian peacock, Indian peacock (Pavo(Pavoindicus)indicus) etc.etc.
Location Map of the study area with Study sitesLocation Map of the study area with Study sites
The study carried out from April, 2009 to September,2009 in DVNP, AJK. The study area divided into four localities (Deva, Vatala,Chumb and Barmala) on topographic basis.Visual Encounter Survey of dens and DirectSighting Method (Crump & Scott, 1994) Transect walks were made to assess the distributionand population status of the animal in the selectedlocalities. To assess the population status of the Indian rockpython in the study area, Visual Encounter Survey,dens survey and Direct Sighting Method were used.Methodology
Continued…..Continued….. Transect area was calculated by multiplyingTransect area was calculated by multiplyinglength of transect by 0.4 km (possible visibilitylength of transect by 0.4 km (possible visibilityarea along the both sides of transect).area along the both sides of transect). Population density/kmPopulation density/km22= Number of estimated= Number of estimatedindividuals in all active dens /Total areaindividuals in all active dens /Total areasurveyed (kmsurveyed (km22)) Human-python conflict in the area assessed andHuman-python conflict in the area assessed andevaluated by questionnaireevaluated by questionnaire..
Habitat AssessmentHabitat Assessment Dominant plant species (herbs, shrubs andDominant plant species (herbs, shrubs andtrees) were generally assessed along eachtrees) were generally assessed along eachtransecttransect Dominants plant species were collected and gotDominants plant species were collected and gotidentified from Botany Department of AJKidentified from Botany Department of AJKUniversityUniversityTopographic aspects were notedTopographic aspects were noted..
ResultsResultsDistribution•Indian rock python distributed over some 2993 haarea in all four localities i.e.• Vatala (11 different sub-localities)• Chumb (6 different sub-localities)• Barmala (4 different sub-localities)• Deva (2 different sub-localities)
Satellite image based map showing the distribution of Indian rock pythonSatellite image based map showing the distribution of Indian rock pythonon the basis of active dens in Deva Vatalaon the basis of active dens in Deva Vatala National ParkNational Park during 2009.during 2009.
Population density of Indian rock python during 2009 inthe study areaZone Elevationrange(m)Areasurveyedduringwalk(km2)No. ofactive den(observed/reported)Number ofactive denwith freshdirectevidenceEstimatedadultpopulationPopulationdensityVatala 309-536 3.2 33 7 7 2.18Chumb 267-313 2.4 28 9 9 3.75Barmala 404-511 1.6 7 4 4 2.5Deva 339-415 1.6 12 7 7 4.37Total estimated adult population = 27
Past sighting record of Indian rock python in DevaPast sighting record of Indian rock python in DevaVatala National ParkVatala National Park0246810122005 2006 2007 2008 2009YearNumberofsightingVatalaChumbBarmalaDevaDuring year 2005(n=2), 2006 (n=9), while in 2007 (n= 8) Similarly, 2008 (n=29)and 2009(n=28) sightings have been reported at different places.The rate of sighting was higher in Chumb 32% (n=24) than the Vatala 28%(n=21), Barmala 22% (n=17) and Deva 18% (n=14) during 2005-2009
Sighting of Indian rock python during different monthsSighting of Indian rock python during different monthsof years 2005-2009 in study areaof years 2005-2009 in study area0123456789JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecemberMonthNumberofsighting20052006200720082009Sighting record was high in the months of July (n=20, 26%) and August (n=12,15%) , as Indian rock python hibernates in the winter, when mating takes placeand during March to June eggs remain inside the den, Breen and John (1974)
Sighting of Indian rock python in different time during theSighting of Indian rock python in different time during theyears 2005-2009 in study areayears 2005-2009 in study area0246810121416Morning Daytime Evening NightTime of sightingNumberofsightingY2005Y2006Y2007Y2008Y2009Sighting record during Daytime 45% (n=34), morning 35% (n=27), evening13% (n=10) and night time 7% (n=5) during Y2005 to Y2009 in DVNPreported by local communityKhan (2006) has also reported these snakes as nocturnal with basking andsleeping behavior in sun during day time.
Active dens Active Dens near watersource (m)Active dens away fromwater80 0-100 100-500 500-800 2113 38 8Distance of the active dens from the water sourcePython molurus molurus depend on a permanent source of waterMehrtens (1987)
Human-python conflictsHuman-python conflicts The occupation of the people in theseThe occupation of the people in thesestudy sites varied, 68% shepherds, 24%study sites varied, 68% shepherds, 24%farmers, 6% shopkeepers, 1% drivers andfarmers, 6% shopkeepers, 1% drivers and1% laborers.1% laborers. Major depending source of economy isMajor depending source of economy islivestock. The average number of livestocklivestock. The average number of livestockper family was 10 to 20per family was 10 to 20 These snakes have often been killed forThese snakes have often been killed fortheir fine skin.their fine skin.
Continue…..Continue…..The maximum number of livestockwas depredated in Barmala (31%,n=23) followed by Chumb (28%,n=21), Vatala (23%, n=17) and Deva(18%, n=13) during the year 2005 toSeptember, 2009.
Satellite image based map showing the livestock depredation points bySatellite image based map showing the livestock depredation points byIndian rock python during 2005-09 in Deva Vatala National Park.Indian rock python during 2005-09 in Deva Vatala National Park.
Livestock depredation during 2005-20090246810122005 2006 2007 2008 2009Year of depredationNumberoflivestockdepredatedVatalaChumbBarmalaDevamaximum number of livestock was depredated in Barmala (31%, n=23)followed by Chumb (28%, n=21), Vatala (23%, n=17) and Deva (18%, n=13)during the year 2005 to September, 2009 as reported by the local community
Types of livestock killed by Indian rock python during2005-2009 killing rate of goats was very high (84%, n=62) followed by the poultry (5%,n=4), sheep (4%, n=3), cows (4%, n=3) and buffalo (3%, n=2) during theperiod 2005 to September, 2009 in Deva Vatala National Park Jerry (1998) has reported that Indian rock python feed on mammals, birdsand reptiles indiscriminately, but seem to prefer mammals.
Month wise Livestock depredation during 2005-2009 Live stock depredation reported in July (22%, n=16), August (19%, n=14),September (15%, n=11), March (11%, n=8), May (7%, n=5), October (7%,n=5), February (5%, n=4), April (4%, n=3), June (4%, n=3), January (4%,n=3) and November (3%, n=2) Khan (2006) has also reported that Indian rock python hibernates in winter,when mating takes place while from March to June eggs are laid in somesecure place
Time of livestock Predation by Indian rock pythonduring 2005-2009During the study, it was reported by the local community that the maximumnumber of livestock killing were at day time (54%, n=40), followed by themorning (20%, n=15), evening (19%, n=14) and night (7%, n=5) in the studysites during the period 2005 to September, 2009
Local community perception abut Indian Rock Python instudy area during the year 2009
Habitat Utilization by Indian Rock PythoHabitat Utilization by Indian Rock Pythonn In Deva Vatala National Park, IndianIn Deva Vatala National Park, Indianrock python usually preferred therock python usually preferred thesubtropical area comprising the mostsubtropical area comprising the mostdominant vegetation including herbsdominant vegetation including herbs((Saccharum spontaneumSaccharum spontaneum), shrubs), shrubs(Lantana camara,(Lantana camara, Dedonia viscosa,Dedonia viscosa,Carisa opeca, Ziziphus jujuba)Carisa opeca, Ziziphus jujuba) andandtreestrees (Mangifera indica,(Mangifera indica, DalbergiaDalbergiasissosisso andand Acacia nilotica)Acacia nilotica)..
ConclusionsConclusions The Indian rock python were randomly distributed inThe Indian rock python were randomly distributed inDeva Vatala National Park including all study sitesDeva Vatala National Park including all study sitesbetween 267-536m elevation ranges (above seabetween 267-536m elevation ranges (above sealevel)level) 76 sightings were reported in DVNP during 2005-76 sightings were reported in DVNP during 2005-20092009 Population density was estimated as 3.06/ kmPopulation density was estimated as 3.06/ km22.. Livestock depredation by the python increasedLivestock depredation by the python increasedgradually from 2005 to 2009.gradually from 2005 to 2009.
Continue…Continue… A total of 74 livestock killings were reportedA total of 74 livestock killings were reportedamong which goats were killed in majorityamong which goats were killed in majority(84%)(84%) Due to the livestock depredation, most ofDue to the livestock depredation, most ofthe people (85%) were against the Indianthe people (85%) were against the Indianrock python and in such human-pythonrock python and in such human-pythonconflicts about 92% pythons were killed byconflicts about 92% pythons were killed bythe communitythe community
RecommendationsRecommendations Park Management must be initiated to protectPark Management must be initiated to protectthe wildlife their natural habitat which willthe wildlife their natural habitat which willincreases the natural prey population for Indianincreases the natural prey population for Indianrock python, minimizing the livestockrock python, minimizing the livestockdepredation and human-python conflictdepredation and human-python conflict Implement and monitor the strong rules andImplement and monitor the strong rules andregulations to stop the Indian rock python illegalregulations to stop the Indian rock python illegaltrading by the local community to save thetrading by the local community to save theIndian rock python population in the Deva VatalaIndian rock python population in the Deva VatalaNational Park.National Park.
RecommendationsRecommendations As the Indian rock python is anAs the Indian rock python is anendangered species, therefore, detailedendangered species, therefore, detailedresearch studies, awareness programsresearch studies, awareness programsand conservation projects should beand conservation projects should belaunched both by the public and privatelaunched both by the public and privatesectors for the conservation andsectors for the conservation andmanagement.management. Human interference should be strictlyHuman interference should be strictlybanned at least in the core zone of thebanned at least in the core zone of theNational ParkNational Park Indian rock python illegal trade shouldIndian rock python illegal trade should
Our Future Plan…..Our Future Plan…..1.1. To explore Indian Rock Python distribution andTo explore Indian Rock Python distribution andstatus in other areas of AJ&Kstatus in other areas of AJ&K2.2. 2.2. Work on minimizing the human-pythonWork on minimizing the human-pythonconflicts and community awarenessconflicts and community awareness3.3. 3.3. To work on the Dens shape and topographyTo work on the Dens shape and topography4.4. 4.4. To propose the conservation action plan forTo propose the conservation action plan forthe Indian Rock Python population in AJ&K.the Indian Rock Python population in AJ&K.
Confirmation of species by Prof. Dr.Confirmation of species by Prof. Dr.M. Sharif KhanM. Sharif Khan
Saturated Indian rock python resting after engulfing atChumb locality during study period 2009
Measuring GPS location of active den of Indian rockpython at chumb locality
Russell ViperThreats faced by Wildlife researcher during field
Overview of the habitat used by Indian rock python