Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keeping it in the community

Published on 4th Dec 2013 on Kathmandu Post - a popular English daily in Nepal.

In the recently concluded Constituent Assembly election, we witnessed the public rising against all odds to vote. The outcome was a historic, record high turnout. A great lesson to be learned indeed, and we have seen this time and again—when people come together with a strong sense of duty and ownership, nothing is beyond reach. Meanwhile, a similar scenario, but on a smaller scale and in the field of conservation, is taking place in Nawalparasi. 
Imagine hunting a near threatened animal as a traditional practice for food and realising one fine day that the practice is wrong. This is what happened in a few VDCs of Nawalparasi district: Deurali, Naram, Ruchang, Dhaubadi and Hupsekot. Communities came together and decided to protect the Himalayan goral (Nemorhedus goral), demonstrating strong local stewardship and engagement in conserving a vulnerable species. The Himalayan goral is popularly called ghoral in Nepali. It is a goat-antelope, with a short tail, backward-pointing horns and a grey coloured coat with a white bib. The shy natured goral can be found foraging and sheltering on the rocky faces of mountains. The goral population has been notably declining due to hunting and habitat loss; it is listed as a near threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Red List.
Protecting gorals
The Magar communities in these Nawalparasi villages have been hunting goral for a long time. Jhabilal Ranamager, a local from Dhaubadi VDC, says, “When we hunted goral, the studier ones always got away and those that got killed were the pregnant, sick and old goral. What moved us was to find an infant inside the carcass almost all the time. It made us feel guilty and cold-blooded.” This realisation motivated the villagers of Dhaubadi VDC to call a meeting with the elders. What came out of this meeting was a decision to protect the goral and motivate surrounding VDCs to join their cause. It has been almost five years now since the five VDCs in Nawalparasi came together to form a committee to conserve goral and their habitat. The villagers now want to establish the five VDCs, including key goral habitats, as a community-based goral conservation area.

Since there has been no thorough study on the goral population in Nepal, the exact population status is hard to determine. However, a population of around 100 goral is estimated to be in the Mahabharat lekh (high land) of Nawalparasi and Palpa districts. A recent study commissioned by the USAID-funded Hariyo Ban Program in the Chitwan Annapurna Landscape identifies the Nawalparasi area and adjoining VDCs in Palpa district as playing a crucial role in maintaining forest connectivity between Chitwan National Park in the lowland Tarai and the Annapurna Conservation Area in the hill region to the north. The area is connected to Chitwan National Park through forest corridors from the south (Pithauli forests), in the east through contiguous forest (up to Gaidakot in the east) and in the west (Daunne forest area). Protecting goral will involve conserving their habitat, and thereby, benefitting other animal species as well as by maintaining the north-south forest connectivity. Safeguarding forest connectivity is particularly important in the context of increasing temperatures and environmental change. Such forest linkages will play a crucial role in long-term biodiversity conservation and build resilience to climate change in Nepal.
Bottom-up conservation
The traditional conservation approach in Nepal was to establish a protected area, often relocating local people outside the park boundaries. However, now, there are a wider variety of approaches, as demonstrated by Nepal’s conservation areas and community forests. If these VDCs of Nawalparasi are established as community-based conservation area then a large swathe of land will be protected with local stewardship, integrating social and environmental priorities. Current community managed conservation can be seen in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, which was handed over by the Government of Nepal to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council in August 2006. However, in the Kanchenjunga case, a policy was first outlined before the handover, while the five VDCs in Nawalparasi, if declared a community-based conservation area, will be Nepal’s first initiative that started from the ground-up, leading to policy formulation.

Biodiversity expert Shant Raj Jnawali says, “There is no provision for community managed conservation areas in Nepal’s policy where the community has a full stake. Given the livelihood options in this area, if this is recognised as a community-based goral conservation area, then it can be promoted as an eco-tourism site. Chitwan attracts half a million visitors a year; if this area can attract even a small portion of that number, it will have a positive impact on local livelihoods.”
History has proven time and again that people have great power and this stays true for conservation. Prior conservation efforts were successful because of the involvement of communities. Thakur Bhandari, National Committee member of the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (FECOFUN), says, “The provision of community conservation areas in Nepal needs to ensure that the full right to conservation, management and utilisation of the resources are with the communities. And, it should not be declared a community conservation area against people’s wish.”

The initiative taken by the people of Nawalparasi came from sentiment and a new sensibility to contribute to conservation. It is important to note that it was self-initiated and without any external help. Such efforts to establish community conservation areas could provide solutions to many conservation problems in Nepal today. They could help build functional links between livelihood security and conservation, and help bring communities into the mainstream of conservation. In a time of globalisation, this needs to be acknowledged and prioritised in government conservation policies. If a supportive environment is created for such initiatives, taking small steps one at a time, it can perhaps develop into a massive community-based conservation movement in the country.

The views expressed here are personal.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pictures from Shuklaphanta

Pictures below are taken by Pallavi Dhakal and are copyright to WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program. These pictures are also available on
Extensive grasslands within the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
Extensive grasslands within the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

Startled deer look out from the grasslands of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
Startled deer look out from the grasslands of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

A lone deer separated from its herd ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
A lone deer separated from its herd ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal 

The number of blackbucks has increased from 28 to 32 ©WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
The number of blackbucks has increased from 28 to 32 ©WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

The blackbuck were transported from Nepalgunj Mini Zoo and Jawalakhel Zoo © WWF Nepal/ Pallavi Dhakal
The blackbuck were transported from Nepalgunj Mini Zoo and Jawalakhel Zoo © WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program/ Pallavi Dhakal

Monday, November 4, 2013

Narziss and GoldmundNarziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel runs a continuous debate about two philosophical questions as to which one is better: life of hedonism and creativity or life of spirituality and rationality. But does Hesse settle this debate in the book? I believe he does, however it very much depends upon your own interpretation.

What Hesse does is that he tries to answer these two philosophical questions through his two diametrically opposed characters Goldmund and Narziss. Godlmund represents the passionate "feminine mind" of emotion and sensuality while Narziss represents the disciplined and pious mind of altruism and reasoning. Both of these characters seek to find their true nature, and meaning and connection to the world. One tries to do so by being a wanderer, succumbing his life to sensuality and Artistic creativity while the other living a life of devoted priest and theorist.

Although both Goldmund and Narziss live the lives of extremes, there is a true connection of friendship and respect between them. They also learn from each other. It is through Narziss that Goldmund realizes that he is not meant to become a scholar and in fact it is against his true nature. Narziss clearly points out the danger of someone trying to force into a role that is not meant for them.

Golmund thus leaves the monastery to fulfill himself and after years of travelling and experiencing life and even death, he returns to the same monastery. Narziss whose true nature is to become a scholar is shown 'awake', having an understanding of his true intent and in fact when Goldmund returns, Narziss is already an Abbot, holding a high position in monastery – very wise and accomplished.

It is here that Hesse tries to settle the philosophical debate. When Goldmund returns and carves sculptures, Narziss sees his true nature and respects him. However, Narziss also realizes something else – when compared to Goldmund, how poor he was, with all his knowledge, his monastic discipline and dialectics! Narziss - "Yes, and perhaps it was merely not simpler and more humane to live a Goldmund-life in the world. Perhaps in the end it was more valiant, and greater in God's sight, to breast the currents of reality, sin, and accept sin's bitter consequence, instead of standing apart, with well-washed hands, living in sober,quiet security, planting a pretty garden of well-trained thoughts, and walking then, in stainless ignorance among them......"

However, this realization he never shares with Goldmund.

Eventually, when Goldmund comes back again from his yet another wanderings, sick and close to death but looking evermore peaceful and satisfied – Goldmund feels sorry for his friend Narziss. His last words to him is, "But how will you die, Narziss? You know no mother. How can you die without a mother? Without mother we cannot die."

Goldmund's last words seared Narziss heart like a flame.

I somehow feel like Goldmund's life was more satisfying and accomplished towards the end but Golmund was also a troubled individual compared to Narziss who knew his true nature and was disciplined towards achieving his goal. Both the polar opposite throughout the story respected each other differences and also learned from each other.

Ultimately, what is important is creating a balance of Golmund and Narziss in our lives (between passion and reason), for obviously we all have that polar extremes.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Nepal's feat in conservation: The Greater one-horned rhinoceros

This article was published on 22 September 2013 on  Republica (popular national daily)

At the heart of Chitwan National Park, in a waterhole, only three meters away, stood the Greater one-horned rhinoceros in all its glory, goggling me intently as I watched her with nervous excitement. There she was with her calf; naturally armored with her ashy grey hide folds and 15 inches long black horn.  On another occasion, a similar sight was seen in Setidevi Community Forest in Chitwan where another rhino and baby calf were grazing adjacent to agricultural land, living in harmony with the villagers. Similarly, in Namuna Buffer Zone Community Forest, an exquisite angry rhino charged at us when we went too close to her habitat, protecting her newly born. On this enthusing trip to Chitwan on May 2013, I saw twenty-two rhinos.

Photo credit: Pallavi Dhakal/WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program

Today, on September 22, celebrated as the World Rhino Day, it is important to recognize the successful conservation efforts of Nepal to bring back the magnificent Greater one-horned rhinoceros from the brink of extinction.

There were times when these mighty creatures were said to be used by the Mughal emperors in fights against elephants for entertainment. Such practices and rampant hunting for sport, killing as agricultural pests and poaching of rhinos for their horns had significantly reduced their numbers. In 1960s the number was noted to be around 100 individuals in Nepal, confined only in Chitwan Valley.

In recent times, the number has significantly increased. In Nepal and India the total population is estimated to be 2,913 individuals, with 534 rhinos in Nepal alone (Rhino Census, 2011). No wonder the Greater one-horned rhinoceros are reclassified on IUCN red list from endangered to vulnerable.

What did we do right? What lessons can we learn from rhino conservation efforts to protect endangered animals? I raised these questions to noted conservation experts of Nepal and here is what they had to say:Naresh Subedi, Senior Conservationist in National Trust for Nature Conservation says, "Conservation is like a football game where having just the strikers is not enough, we require strong defenders as well. Robust security is prerequisite to defend poachers but equally important is having scientific inputs to protect forest, wildlife and their habitat." He gives the example of Chitwan National Park that was expanded from 544 sq km to 932 sq km in 1977 based on scientific findings to protect bigger species like rhinos.

Shant Raj Jnawali, Biodiversity Coordinator for Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal explains, "Gaida gasti (rhino petrol) by the army back then was very helpful to protect rhinos. Further, recommendation on establishing an alternative rhino sub-population by the scientists in the 80s was also a positive step. There were risks of having only one rhino population constricted in Chitwan. Natural calamities, endemic disease, intense poaching, habitat degradation, climate induced disasters, and in-breeding would run the risk of wiping out the entire population. Consequently, in 1986 from the recovering rhino population in Chitwan the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation decided to establish sub-populations by translocating rhinos."

Accordingly, 13 rhinoceroses (8 males, 5 females) were translocated from Chitwan to the Karnali River floodplains of Bardia National Park. Between 1991 and 2003 additional 70 rhinoceroses (30 males, 40 females) were translocated to the Babai valley in Bardia. In 2000 four rhinos (1 male, 3 female) were released in Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. A total of 8 translocations took place between 1986 and 2003, during which a total of 87 rhinoceros were translocated (Thapa et. al., 2013). However, unfortunately during the decade long armed conflict, rhinoceros conservation in Nepal was compromised by poaching, resulting in local extinction of the Babai population and reduction of populations in other areas.

"To curb poaching, it was important to shift the strategic approach of conservation – to not just work with the law enforcement agencies but to also include local communities in conservation.  This instrumental move was initiated during mid-90s leading to the formation of groups of young dedicated people for Community Based Anti-Poaching Operations (CBAPOs) outside national parks.  I personally think this was a momentous step in conservation and saving rhinos", says Santosh Mani Nepal, Director for Policy and Support Program, WWF Nepal.

Dr. Maheshwor Dhakal, Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) explains, "Rhinos used to cross international boundary when they were introduced in Bardia, they would travel to and from Katarniaghat Wildlife Reserve. Back then we used to have local level park meetings with India to share information and develop cooperation to protect rhinos from poachers and this is still continuing." He explained that the understanding of the seriousness of illegal wildlife trade helped to initiate trans-boundary collaboration and coordination with India at higher level. "We have national level meetings with India each year to tackle organized transnational poachers. This has been equally instrumental in conservation," he states.

Another important step in conservation according to Santosh Mani Nepal is the formation of institutional mechanism involving all enforcement agencies of Nepal. A step towards formation of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in 2009 brought the effort of all law enforcement agencies under single umbrella to control poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Nepal.

In spite of these initiatives, rhinos are still at risk. Poaching, habitat degradation, rapid infrastructure development, and human-rhino conflict are still threatening their survival. “Large infrastructures like Karnali high dam in Bardiya National Park, and National railway and Hulaki road that is bifurcating Chitwan National Park through the prime rhino habitat will have a tremendous negative impact on the survival of rhinos in their natural habitat” argues Santosh Mani Nepal.  Jnawali explains that climate-related threats are equally exerting added pressure in already susceptible rhino population. "Prolonged drought is drying oxbow lake that rhinos use for wallowing. River beds are raised drying flood plains and reducing the growth of tall grass species that rhinos prefer – we see this very distinctly in the eastern part of Rapti River beds in Chitwan National Park," points Jnawali.  

So how do we secure the future populations of rhinos in Nepal? Dr. Dhakal explains that only recently feasibility study on rhino translocation was concluded and that either this year or the coming year the government of Nepal will translocate rhinos to Babai valley in Bardia. However, before doing so the DNPWC wants to be certain on three things – firstly ensuring that the translocation will not have negative impact on the source population, secondly establishing strong security measures in Babai area, and lastly having 3-5 years post monitoring plan.

In conjunction with these efforts Subedi says restoring rhino habitat is crucial; including management of invasive plant species such as Mikenia, restoring wetlands and grasslands, using innovative techniques to monitor rhinos such as ID based, radio or satellite collaring, and controlling rhino-human conflict with installation of power fence or other measures.

All the conservationists and experts I talked to agree that what worked for rhinos were many different things done together in wide-ranging partnerships between governments, security personnel and communities. They recognize the importance of research and monitoring in the changing context of climate change and its execution in policies and actions being crucial for protection of any endangered animal.

What I personally hope is to be able to see rhinos in Bardia as I witnessed in Chitwan last May. While it is going to be a challenge for conservationists of Nepal, looking at the past successes of conserving rhinos, I am positive that Nepal is perfectly capable of doing the same in the near future.

The opinions expressed herein are personal

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Animal Farm

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I was reading this book, I had our country's internal armed conflict in mind.

Just to give you a brief background as to what the book is all about (for those who have not read the book yet). The humans in Manor Farm are chased away by the farm animals, in the leadership of pigs and they rename the farm 'Animal Farm'. They establish their own principles and commandments but as time goes by the smart pigs change the commandments to fit their selfish needs and ultimately enslave the animals and run the farm themselves. That’s the background in a gist.

To me, not surprisingly, the ending of the book matched quite well to the current position of Nepal. With all that bloodshed and uprising, what happened? In Manor Farm humans were simply replaced by pigs and the animals continued to suffer. Does that not sound familiar?

While the book might have been a critique to the then Stalin's communism in USSR, I think I not only speak for myself but dare say most Nepalese (who've read the book of course), of its obvious resemblance to Nepal – of the thwarting failure of Maoist and the principals they claimed to stand by. What do the pigs do with the Animal Farm's commandments; comrades they change it one after another (very discreetly of course)!!

Obviously the book gives a strong message at the end – the fact that a violent armed revolution, particularly led by power-hungry people will only lead to the change of masters. Precisely why communism has failed in most places (by naively assuming that the pigs will not abuse their power)! And boy have we not seen the contrary in Nepal!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Review on the book Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lolita always had a negative connotation. Even when I shared to people that I was reading Lolita, they already had a negative ruling on the book. They said it was a sexy book, but contrarily Lolita is far from it. Obviously it is a classic novel so everybody knows about it and the subject that Nabokov has written about is very disturbing and tabooed.

Humbert a full grown male adult is the narrator who declares his ceaseless and hysterical love/desire for a child named Lolita. There are few instances in the book that really appalled me. For instance Humbert says Lolita (the little child) was the one who seduced him. Imagine the intensity of that charge to justify his sickening action; blaming a child walking around and sitting on his lap innocently for the reason he raped her repeatedly. Second thing that was shocking to me was Humbert realizing the fact that Lolita will one day grow up and that he might need to find someone alternative for his sexual needs. He then envisages marrying Lolita to have a girl child (little Lolita) that he can use as a pawn to satisfy his pedophilic needs in the future.

How the writer Nabokov explains about Humbert being a pedophile by nature, I thought was pretty interesting and convincing. There are moments when you feel sad for Humbert and then you are disgusted by your own feeling for sympathizing a pedophile. I think Nabokov through his words and writing intended to do exactly that to the readers. He convinces you to side with a pedophile over a little girl. A creepy thought isn’t it?

While this is indeed a book about pedophilia, it is much more than that. I think Nobokov intended to not just look at Humbert's vices but reflect on our own as well. We need to look beyond the flat theme of the book and read between the lines. While it might be difficult for the negative tag that Lolita comes along with to go away, reading the novel definitely made me realize that this book is far from being just plain disturbing, negative and/or sexual.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

नेपाली जनताले सामाजिक सञ्जालमा निर्वाचनको विषयमा देखाए आफ्नो श्रीजनात्मक पाटो

बितेका केहि दिनहरुमा सामाजिक सञ्जाल (टुईटर र फेसबुक) मा नेपाली दाजु भाई तथा दिदी बहिनीहरुले निर्वाचनको विषयमा उठाएका केहि व्यंग्यात्मक तथा आक्रोशित प्रसंगहरु बटुलेर तल पेस गरिएको छ | नेपाली जनताको श्रीजनात्मक पाटो विशेष गरेर सामाजिक सञ्जालमा हेर्न पाईयो !

निश्चित रूपमा महान् नेपाली जनताले हामीलाई नै मतदान गरेका हुन्। विदेशीले षडयन्त्र गरेर पठाएको विशेष किसिमको मतदान गर्ने मसी आफैँ बगेर रूख र सुर्य तिर गएको हो भन्ने हाम्रो गौरवशाली पार्टीको ठहर हो।

संबिधान सभा भबन हराभरा हुने भयो अनि झलमल घाम पनि लाग्ने भयो, गाईले फोहोर पार्दिने हो कि भन्ने मात्र चिन्ता लागिरहेको स्थिती छ ।

हिसिला यमिले बाबुराम लाई रात भरी भुकुरिन ।।।।। किन तिमीले मात्रै बुथ कब्जा गरेको मेरो पनि गर्दिनु पर्दैन ! hehehehehe.

तिम्रो दिलको बाकसभित्र मेरो मुटुको स्वस्तिक हानेर मनको मतपत्र सुटुक्क खसालेको थिएँ, के परिणाम आयो ? कि, बीच बाटैमा बाकस बदल्यौ ? हँ !

रोल्पा रुकुम जाजरकोटका तीनै क्षेत्र जित्ने जस्तो छ ! त्यहा बिदेशी पुगेनन् क्यार साट्न, रोल्पामा त मैलाई देखेर डराए होला !

श्रीपेच कता छ? श्रीपेच कता छ?? ज्ञानेन्द्र बिहानीको सपनामा बर्बराइरहेका होलान् ।

राष्ट्रिय राजनीतिमा अटाएनौ, अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय समुदायको खबर्दारी छ, राज्यले 'अपराधी' भनेर औंला ठडायो, बन्द जनताले अवज्ञा गरे, बैद्य बा, बिउँझ !

कम्रेड उतिखेर साइकल चदेर भोट माग्या भए जितिन्थ्यो की ? हेलिकोप्टर चदीयो हारियो । #हार स्वीकार गर

प्रचण्ड पुकदा माओबादी सुकदा कुकुर झैँ भुकदा जनताले थूकदा लुत्रुक्क झुकदा।

दुई ठाउँबाट चुनाउ हार्दा नि माकुनेले धाँधली बहिष्कार भनेर उफ्रेनन् त ! मुटु चाहिन्छ मुटु ! 

जनता ले माओवादीलाई कांग्रेश को शारणमा पुर्याएका छन । * जंगलमा रुख हुन्छ, त्यस्को छाहरीमा बस भनेका हुन् ।जनता ले माओवादीलाई कांग्रेश को शारणमा पुर्याएका छन । * जंगलमा रुख हुन्छ, त्यस्को छाहरीमा बस भनेका हुन् ।

जनमत अश्विकार गर्नु भनेको भएका कार्यकर्ता र शुभेच्छुकलाई पनि जंगल पसाउनु हो ।... रूखैरूखको जंगल !

एबीसी टिभीमा काम गर्ने मित्रहरूको अनुहार फुङ्ग उडेको देख्छु म आज । रातोपाटीको रंग कस्तो छ कुन्नी?

सहर छोड के प्रचण्डवा जंगल चलि, जनता दुश्मन भैल हमार , तु हि तो मेरो जान है रेखा , झुट भैल सपनवा हमा, रेखा जवान प्रचण्डवा परेशान
अघिल्लो चोटी म भएँ राष्टपति भित्ते, आफ्नै कुबुद्धि घमण्डले ६ बर्ष मै सिद्धे, बोलो तारारारा~~~~हाय हारे लोप्पा हारे लोप्पा हारे लोप्पा ;))

प्रचण्डले भन्ने भए,"माकुनेले २ ठाउँबाट हार्दा प्रधानमन्त्री भएका थिए, म त झन् तेस्रो भएको छु। प्रधानमन्त्री पद मेरा लागि झन् सुरक्षित छ

यो जातियताको राजनीति जनतालाई मन परेको रैनछ भन्ने कुरो प्रमाणित हुदैछ।नेता र बुद्धीजिविले,जनताका दुहाइ दिन्थ्ये,जनताले दर्हो झापड हान्दिए। :)

टाइमलाइनबाट बिल्कुलै गायब भएका माओवादी साथीहरु मत बहिष्कार भनेपछि फेरि झुल्किनथाल्नुभो। कामरेडहरुलाइ सुनाइदिनु होला, नमानि धर छैन।

चुनाव माओवादीले हार्या होला देश र जनताले हारेको हैन । दल त एउटा गए अर्को आउँछ । मुख्य कुरा -नेपाली जनता कुनै दलको दास बन्न नचाहेको देखियो ।

यो विदेशी षड्यन्त्र त कडा हुँदोरछ यार। सबै मतपेटिका नै फेरिदिन सक्ने भन्या याँ हो? :)

मिड-प्याक छलाङ….. हातमा आइसकेका पत्ती गतिला भएनन् भनेर बीचैमा हाप्नुलाई तासखेलमा मिड-प्याक भन्छन्। 'छलाङ' ले त्यसमा क्रान्तकारी लेप लगाइदिन्छ।

हिसीला यामी हार्नु र गगन थापा जित्नुमा जनताले षडयन्त्र गरेको पुरै भान हुन्छ है ;-)

वा क्या गजव। जितेको ठाउँमा षडतन्त्र भा छैन, हारेको ठाउँमा चाहिँ सबै षडयन्त्र नै षडयन्त्र। क्याबात, जनता जति सबै मुर्ख, तिमेरु नै जान्ने, तिमेरु नै हनुमान।

नेपालका पार्टि र नेताहरुलाई 'बुद्धिजिवी' भन्दा नि 'PR Agency' को खाँचो छ । यिनीहरुले आफूलाई गलत मार्केटिङ गरिरहेकाछन् ।

एउटा प्रश्न, प्रचन्डलाई म्वाइ खाने बुढाबुढीले भोट हालेनन? हाले भने, कसरी चैँ हारे त महान नेता?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Barely Surviving: the Karnali River and Forest Corridor

This article was published on Republica - popular Nepali national daily. Link to this article Please note that the views expressed here are personal.

“Let a female tiger in India make love to a male tiger in Nepal,” sang Bhadai Tharu, a local conservationist from Bardia. His song underlines an important fact. Like all other species, tigers too need genetic diversity in order to survive. Inbreeding reduces their chances of survival and with the added complication of climate change, how do we ensure that Indian and Nepali tigers meet?

One way to do it is to create conservation corridors to preserve habitat connectivity, enabling wildlife to move from one place to another. The corridor concept started to gain currency with Nepal’s conservationists during the mid-1990s. Before that, conservation efforts tended to focus on important species such as rhinos and tigers. A fortress-style approach was used, with national parks and protected areas set up to ‘contain’ the wildlife. The corridor concept forms part of the landscape approach to conservation, which works to address the challenges of habitat fragmentation and habitat isolation by looking at the broad interconnectedness of ecological systems. The approach also seeks to promote integrated ecosystem management that takes into account the socio-economic, political, and cultural needs of local communities. The Terai Arc Landscape was the first to be recognized by the government in April 2001. Corridors play a crucial role in the landscape approach as they provide trans-boundary connectivity for wildlife as well.

Although four such trans-boundary corridors already exist and are recognized by the Nepal Government, there is an urgent need for an additional corridor to connect Bardia National Park in Nepal to Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India. This will be called the Karnali River and Forest corridor. The corridor will follow the western tributary of the Karnali River, which branches out from Chisapani Bazar in Baliya VDC and covers an area of 14,618.5 hectares.

Photo Credit: WWF, Hariyo Ban Program/Pallavi Dhakal

As the name suggests, this will be the first river and forest corridor in Nepal, facilitating the movement of both terrestrial and aquatic animals, notably the threatened Gangetic dolphin and gharial populations. The corridor provides both north-south and east-west connectivity which will be of particular help in the western stretches of the Churia hills. This additional corridor will also shore up protection for the entire Karnali River ecosystem in combination with the Khata corridor which lies to the east.

Both the (existing) Khata corridor and the (proposed) Karnali corridor facilitate the north-south movement of mega species such as rhinos, tigers and elephants. "If we do not intervene immediately, the long term viability of the narrow strip of forest that still exists in the Karnali corridor is put into question," says Dr. Shant Raj Jnawali, Biodiversity Coordinator for the USAID funded Hariyo Ban Program. Dr. Jnawali’s fears are well-placed given the many challenges the area is facing, the most serious of which is the massive encroachment of forest land and river beds in the southernmost section of the corridor near the Nepal-India border. This wholesale encroachment has almost caused the corridor to be split in two.

The ongoing development of infrastructure presents further challenges. The east-west Mahendra  Highway passes  through  the Karnali  corridor  at  Baliya VDC, fragmenting a major patch of forest in the Churia hills and a narrow  strip  of  forest  in the Terai. The ongoing World Bank supported Rani Jamara Kulariya irrigation canal project also bisects the forest corridor.  This physical barrier will have direct impacts on the north-south movement of wildlife. The canal will eventually pass through almost all of the corridor-adjoining VDCs in Kailali district. A hydropower project has been proposed upstream of the corridor on the Karnali River at Chisapani and if ever built, would very seriously affect the ecosystems in both the corridor and Bardia National Park. The proposed Indian funded Hulaki Highway connecting Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi, if constructed, will pass through the lower part of the corridor, fragmenting the habitat further and threatening the very existence of wildlife in the area, let alone their free movement.

Photo Credit: WWF, Hariyo Ban Program/Pallavi Dhakal

"While national development is essential, we need to be careful, because this is a corridor of international importance. Any infrastructure development in this corridor should be designed in such a way that it will have minimum impact," says Santosh Mani Nepal, Director of the Policy and Support Program at WWF Nepal. “WWF Nepal strongly recommends that the government either elevates the part of the Hulaki Highway where it passes through the corridor, or runs it underground,” he continues. “This is essential for the safe movement of wildlife, and for safeguarding the ecological functionality of the corridor.”

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) seeks to evaluate the effects that a project will have on the surrounding environment; it also recommends steps to be taken to minimize negative effects. One can only wonder about the recommendations made by the EIA carried out for the canal and highway projects. Considering that in Nepal, highways have been routed through national parks and other protected areas, let us hope that the EIA carried out for the Karnali projects are not being used simply to justify project interventions.

The many successful conservation efforts being carried out by different organizations in the Karnali corridor will be unable to address critical ecological issues without strong government support. The corridor must be conserved by strong community engagement, supported with robust policy back-up. The participation of local communities in conservation initiatives is after all imperative.  If only there were more local heroes like Bhadai Tharu to save the Karnali river and forest corridor. He has achieved so much in the neighboring Khata corridor which is well-maintained by local communities. And his passion for tigers continues, despite losing an eye in the tiger attack. “Let us not break the love between the Indian and the Nepali tigers,” he sings, “let us not block their free passage, let them meet and make love.”

Saturday, February 16, 2013

अमर न्यौपानेको सेतो धरती

Seto DhartiSeto Dharti by Amar Neupane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

खोई कहाँ बाट यस किताबको समीक्षा लेखुँ | आँखाबाट आँसु झार्दै किताब पढ्न शुरु गरे | अमर न्यौपानेले सार्है मिठो र सजिलो भाषामा लेखेका छन् यो किताब | हाम्रो रूढ़िगत संस्कृति र पारंपरिक सोचका कारण महिलाले भोग्नु परेका पिंडा, विशेषगरी बाल्बिध्वाका संघर्ष र जीवनका बारेमा सार्है मार्मिक र प्रेरणादायी ढङ्गमा लेखेका छन् | मैले यस पुस्तकका पात्र तारा, पवित्रा र यमुनाका कथाबाट बिशेष गरेर जीवन र समयको महत्व बारे बुझे |जीवन छोटो लामो जे भने पनि, समय रोक्न सकिन्न, हेर्दा हेर्दै मान्छे बच्चा देखी जवान र बुढो हुन्छ | ताराले जब पवित्राको जीवनको बारे मा थाहा पाउछिन्, उनले पछि पवित्रलाई घृणा नगरी श्रद्धाले हेर्छिन् ... किनभने वास्तवमा जीवनको सहि आन्नद तेस्को भोग गरेर मात्रै हुने रहेछ, जीवनलाई बुझ्ने तरिका पनि तेही नै रहेछ | हरेक कुराको लागि जीवनमा एउटा समय आउछ, तेस बेला त्यसको सहि उपयोग गर्नु नै हाम्रो धर्म रहेछ |

ताराले पवित्राको जीवनलाई यसरी विश्लेषण गर्छिन् .... "आफै रित्तिएर, खुईलिएर उमेर र समय ताप र राफले उडाएर लैजाने जीवनको रङ्गहरुलाई उनले कति कुशलतापूर्वक उपयोग गर्न जानेकी | करारी त्यसो गर्न सकेकी? उनले के भोगिनन् ? ....... वास्तवमा भोगेर नै जिन्दगीका दागहरु मेटिने रहेछन् क्यारे |"

अन्तयमा :

..धर्तिमा नँया मान्छेहरु आउदै पुराना मान्छेहरु जाने क्रम चलिरहेछ | हेर्दा हेर्दै हेर्ने आँखालाई नै पुरानो बनाएर एउटा बालक किशोर हुन्छ, किशोर जवान हुन्छ, जवान प्रौढ हुन्छ प्रौढ बुढो हुन्छ | तर,बुढो प्रौढ हुँदैन, प्रौढ जवान हुँदैन ...

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Monday, February 4, 2013


You deny, I doubt
You explain, I’m confused 

You shout, I scream
You beg, I retreat 

I assume, I cry
You defend, you try 

I condemn, I curse
You blame, you label 

I’m shaken, I’m hurt
You’re angry, you’re upset 

I reflect, you regret
I give up, you give in 

Now both grieving and repenting 
But none commencing or complying

With broken heart
And broken relation

What did we get, with this aggression!