I have spent the week travelling through the Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal from Parsa Wildlife Reserve to the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve which is far west of Nepal, bordering with India, with two colleagues from WWF Nepal: Diwakar Chapagain and Madhav Khadka of the wildlife trade monitoring programme.
There are so many issues and stories to share. The Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), which is transboundary, between India and Nepal, is a priority landscape for tigers, rhinos and elephants, consisting of protected areas (National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Buffer Zones), and bottlenecks and corridors for the movement of wildlife.
The TAL initiative has a vision of connecting these areas through the conservation and regeneration of forest and wildlife habitats. I have met many knowledgeable, dedicated, energetic and inspiring people from WWF, the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the National Parks, the Nepal Army, the Police and local community groups, who are all working together, in a combined effort to tackle the threats, including poaching of wildlife.
These people are working in tough conditions and with little resources, and are also involved in potentially dangerous work.
It’s not just wildlife that’s killed by poachers – people have been killed and attacked too. Illegal wildlife trade is big money, and is fed by the demand for wildlife parts originating from outside – mainly in China.
WWF and our local partners, which include the local enforcement authorities, especially park and police, the local communities and NTNC, support the anti-poaching and conservation efforts here. This includes helping to provide training and equipment to ensure that the anti-poaching efforts are as effective as they can be. Resources provided by the Government seem inadequate to fully finance activities which fully protect the National Parks, which is why this combined effort is so important.
WWF and partners help to establish and support community-based anti-poaching units (CBAPUs) – we love our acronyms! – which are formed largely by younger people living in the buffer zones or corridor areas. I felt privileged to meet with about 30 young people from one such group in Bardia, who were proud to tell me that since their involvement in 2008, there have been no incidences of wildlife crime. The last report of rhino poaching was five years ago. They feel that it’s their responsibility to take care of their area. In fact, I discovered that the father of the leader of one of this group, Hemant Prasad Archarya, was killed by an elephant, and yet he is involved in protecting them, and he told me that when an elephant came near to their village, they worked with the Park to protect property and people.
Recently they have helped to train local young people to act as nature guides for tourists, and they do a lot in their community to raise awareness. One person said that “when I wanted to be involved in this group, my parents didn’t understand why, and discouraged me. However, now that the impact of our activities is visible, and we are able to pass our knowledge and views onto our parents, they now feel proud”.
What’s your view about the illegal wildlife trade? Leave us a comment.