KATHMANDU, Dec 7: In a groundbreaking ornithological revelation, the first-ever documented sighting of a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) was made in Bhaktapur last week.
Sujan Shrestha, program officer at the Conservation Development Foundation, made the extraordinary discovery on November 29, 2023, at approximately 8:15 am, as Shrestha engaged in a casual birding walk along the Hanumante River in Naya Thimi. The location, situated between Madhyapur Thimi Municipality and Surya Binayak Municipality, became the unexpected habitat for the goose, as attested by local residents who reported its presence a few days ago.
Initially unaware of the species, Sujan Shrestha promptly notified Surya Man Shrestha and Dr Kamal Raj Gosai. While Shrestha works as senior program officer of Conservation Development Foundation, Kathmandu, Dr Gosai is an assistant professor at the Department of Environmental Science in Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.
The experts, upon arrival, identified the goose by its distinctive characteristics, including large-sized, plump bodies, short necks, and a prominent white front patch. The brown head and neck, contrasted with a gray-brown body and an orange or pinkish bill, confirming the presence of the Greater White-fronted Goose.
Dr Gosai, an authority in avian studies, officially confirmed the unprecedented sighting, marking it as the first recorded instance of this species within the Kathmandu Valley. To verify the authenticity of this historic observation, Ishana Thapa, Chief Executive Officer of Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN), initiated a rigorous confirmation process. BCN later affirmed that this event represents the inaugural documentation of a Greater White-fronted Goose in the Kathmandu Valley.
The Kathmandu Valley, renowned for its diverse geography and rich biodiversity spanning 50.7 sq. km, boasts a unique climate transitioning from subtropical in the basin to alpine in the surrounding hills, fostering a distinctive ecological tapestry. This discovery contributes a significant chapter to Nepal's avian history, as the Greater White-fronted Goose was previously recorded in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Phewa Lake in Pokhara, and Chitwan National Park since 2004. The maximum sighting in a single instance was four birds, as documented by the Carol Inskipp team in 2020.
This historic event underscores the importance of ongoing conservation efforts and highlights the diverse and dynamic nature of Nepal's ecosystems, further solidifying the Kathmandu Valley's status as a crucial hub for ornithological exploration, experts said.