Banmara putting Chitwan national park in peril

Kathmandu, June 3:

An environmental activist today said that a fast-growing plant — mile-a-minute — has been posing a grave threat to the flora and fauna of the Chitwan National Park.

“The wild climber has been spreading in the park at an alarming rate since 1994,” Chanda Rana, executive chairperson of Save the Environment Foundation (SEF), said at a press meet. According to her, the plant has engulfed over 20 per cent of the entire national park area. A team of the SEF recently gathered information about the growth of the plant, locally known as banmara lahara.

Banmara is one of the world’s most notorious invaders, she said. The plant spreads from grasslands and smothers shrubs and small trees, which are important sources of food and bedding for most of the animals in the park. “The plant poses a threat to the livelihoods of local people in the buffer zone as it is invading crops.”

According to her, the weed should be destroyed before it begins flowering. “Banmara weed was seen in Nepal 10 years ago, but the authorities concerned have not taken measures to control its invasion.”