72 wild animals killed by vehicles in the fiscal year 2017/18
KOHALPUR, Aug 17: With more wild animals losing their lives after being hit by moving vehicles, highways have challenged the safety and survival of animals at the Banke National Park (BNP).
In the fiscal year 2017/18 alone, 82 wild animals from BNP lost their lives. While 72 of them died after being bumped or smashed by vehicles, four died of dog attack and six more died due to various other reasons. According to BNP, most of them were boars and Chital (spotted deer).
Similarly, three Golden monitor Lizards, three wild cats, eleven boars, twelve chital, four red monkeys, four leopards, three porcupines, two eagles, among others were killed by vehicles. Likewise, other endangered animals such as fox, python, wolf, leopard cat, gharial, etc too were the victims of road kill in the same year, informed Rabin Chaudhary, assistant conservation officer of BNP.
As per the details provided by BNP, vehicles killed 53 wild animals in the fiscal year 2016/17. Reportedly, 43 wild animals died the same death a year before that. However, 37 animals including boars, python, chital among others were rescued in the fiscal year 2017/18.
Shivakhola lies in the east, Kohalpur-Surkhet highway in the west, Chure range in the north and East-West Highway in the South of BNP. As highways surround the national park, animal wandering near the highway are prone to accidents. A 72 km area of East-West highway and 32 km of Ratna Highway lies within the national park area. High speeded vehicles often kill animals and leave several injured.
As the national park is in dry area, animals keep crossing highways to go to Rapti River in search of water. Most of the animals are killed especially in the dry season, says conservation officer Chaudhary. Sometimes, animals reach to settlement areas searching for food and water. This in turn has increased human-wildlife conflict. In an attempt to defend themselves, people attack animals with weapons, which end up killing or injuring the rare animals.
Local stakeholders have demanded for the construction of alternative route for the movement of wild animals. “Like in other countries, there should be overpass and underpass system for the movement of wild animals in the highways,” said Krishna Lal Chaudhary, Chairperson of local youth network.
However, this kind of practice has not been prioritized in Nepal, it has often been a matter of discussion in several meetings of the National park, according to Dil Bahadur Purja Pun, chief Conservation officer of BNP.
Earlier, national park had introduced time card system to save wildlife from accidents but that was not effective. There are CCTV cameras installed in some parts of the national park area to monitor the activities of wild animals. “We have cleaned the bushes near the highway to make easy for the drivers and animals to see each other,” said Chief conservation officer Purja Pun.