Himalayan Pitviper (Agkistrodon himalayanus): Conservation, Ecology, Snake Bite, and Human Awareness in Lesser Himalayas, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan

Faiz, Abul Hassan                                                                                                                      
sabulhussan@gmail.com

 

Faiz, Lariab Zahra                                                                                                                                           
Zahar, Mashal

Women University of Azad Kashmir                                                                                                           
Bagh, Pakistan


Natural ecosystems are facing rapid declines of biodiversity on a global level, which has critical implications for ecosystem functions and services. Successful conservation efforts to slow this decline rely on our ability to monitor species and understand their ecological roles. Such efforts are often hindered by a lack of knowledge regarding arcane interactions. In the territories of Azad Kashmir (Pakistan), snakes are represented by 25 species and are facing anthropogenic, climatic, and natural predator pressures. Among 25 species, the Indian Python (Python molurus) and Indian Cobra (Naja naja) are threatened species of reptiles in Pakistan (IUCN 1990).This study was designed to document the altitudinal distribution of the Himalayan Pitviper, Agkistrodon himalayanus Gunther, 1864. We also obtained records of snake bites by this species. The Himalayan Pitviper is widely distributed throughout the Himalayas and inhabits regions 2000 to 3600 m in elevation. It finds refuge under fallen timber, clefts in rocks, beneath boulders, stones, fallen leaves, and among marginal grasses. We estimated the population density of this species to be 5 snakes per km2. The mortality rate with human snake bite was 0.92 % This species seems to require high humidity (60%); we did not find snakes at levels below 60%.. Global warming and anthropogenic pressure are factors that may lead to the extirpation (or even extinction) of this species.

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