December 16, 2019 07:44 AM NPT
By: Arun Bam
Thick layers of snow in Khaptad in this recent photo. Photo courtesy: Nepal Army
DOTI, Dec 16: Heavy snowfall and dipping mercury in Khaptad area has put the wildlife there at the risk of survival. As they move down to warmer areas in the human settlements to avoid the extreme cold, they turn vulnerable, according to Khaptad National Park authorities, who state that the mercury has dipped to minus six degree Celsius in the high hills. The jungles and pasture lands have received over two feet thick snow. It has been raining here since Wednesday.
"The weather has turned dangerous for wildlife. When it turns too cold, they get down to the human settlements seeking warmth, but then they are at risk there. They may be killed,"said Raju Ghimire, Chief Conservation Officer at the national park. "It is already minus six degree Celsius here, it is not bearable for animals either," he added.
Ghimire further stated that the cold has made taking care of the animals challenging for the authorities. Due to heavy snow layers inside the park, staffers have found it difficult to move around. "Nepal Army is trying hard to clear the routes, let's see how long it takes for things to get normal," he said.
Although human-wildlife conflict during such situations is anticipated, the authorities do not have any action plan to help ease things. According to Ram Prasad Upadhyay, President of the national park buffer zone management committee, animals turn violent when they face humans. And this worsens things. "Due to fear or for defense, animals appear violent when they are in a human settlement. And this triggers conflicts," said Upadhyay. "When they move to human areas, some measures should be followed, but there is no preparation," he added.
Upadhyay further said that poachers or smugglers quite wait for the bad weather to come. This gives them a golden opportunity to trap animals. "On the other hand, the arrival of wild animals in human's area is dangerous for cattle. Pets and cattle cannot fight back when attacked by wild beasts," he said.
Upadhyay also talked about the loss of crops when wild animals come down to human settlements. Farmers get agitated that their efforts are ruined by the animals in seconds. "Crops protected by farmers with so much care get ruined in just a few seconds when wild animals run over the fields. So, the farmers also try to trap the animals," he said.
There is quota of 57 officials and staffers in the national park currently. A team of Nepal Army led by a Major provides security. "They are in regular patrolling, security is tight. But that is inside the park," said Conservation Officer Ghimire.
Khaptad is considered invaluable in terms of wildlife diversity. Over 300 species of birds and several types of rare mammals and amphibians are found here.