The all-women team of scientists from the Zoological Survey of India at the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, Himachal Pradesh (All pics. Courtesy/@zsiwrcpune)
Following their 15-day expedition to Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh, the all-women seven-member team of zoologists studied 1,616 faunal samples belonging to 19 groups.
These samples were gathered by scientists, all of whom belong to the Zoological Survey of India, during their maiden high-altitude trek in August.
The group led by Dr. Dhriti Banerjee, ZSI Director spent a fortnight in remote locations situated in Lahaul and Spiti as they studied the remote Himalayan ecosystem of that region and documented and recorded rare and endemic faunal diversity.
During the expedition which explored areas ranging between altitudes of 2,800 and 5,800 metres above mean sea level, the ZSI scientists found Royle’s Pika, Himalayan marmot, Red-billed chough, Hill Pigeon, chukar partridge, water and migratory birds and also some rare butterfly species.
Talking to the media, the zoologists informed that they covered the lesser-explored faunal groups and collected samples of insect fauna like pests, pollinators, annelids, soil fauna, spiders, protozoa, molluscs belonging to the Himalayan environment.
The findings and documentation will help in establishing a baseline data that will enable understanding of varied aspects of this ecology. It will also provide insights into the effect of change in climate on the fauna.
Further the DNA extracted from some viral species will provide a genetic library for research in future.
The expedition was organised to mark India’s 75 years of Independence and covered Miyar, Udaipur and Ghepan valleys, Shinkula and Baralacha passes, and the freshwater lake Suraj Tal.
The members of the team apart from Banerjee included Indu Sharma, Avtar Kaur, Deepa Jaiswal, Debashree Dam, Aparna Kalawate and Shantabala Gurumayum.
Banerjee said more expeditions like this are planned for the future.