Locals, conservation officials at loggerheads

KATHMANDU: Deaths of residents around national parks and protected areas from the attacks of conserved animals have been heightening the conflict between the local communities and conservation officials.

A few days ago, a leopard was killed in Jorpati of Kathmandu. The animal had attempted to attack local residents. On February 14, one person was killed in Nawalparasi from the attack of a Rhino from the Chitwan National Park (CNP).

The department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) is authorised to oversee the issue. "Obviously, the frequency of killing will incite locals to take retaliatory actions. We are, therefore, working as to how to lower the casualties in the communities," said Gopal Prasad Upadhyay, Director General, DNPWC.

The government has also formulated a policy of providing relief for the victims but it remains to be implemented. As envisaged, the kin of the dead will get Rs 150,000 while the government will bear the medical cost of the injured. "We have demanded Rs 10 million this year for distribution among the victims but the sum is yet to be released to the DNPWC," added Upadhyay.

According to the officials at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, growing population and rampant encroachment on the forests are also responsible for the increased encounters between the locals and wild animals. "The animals keep on moving around the territory and it is not in our control to check their movement. We need to be effortful to reduce the casualties," maintained Upadhyay.

The government has not fenced the park boundaries, except parts of the CNP. "We admit that all boundaries have not been fenced but fencing alone is not a solution to the problem. We have been organising awareness programmes and have focussed on reducing the locals' dependency on the conserved areas," Upadhyay added.

Data shows the tiger as the biggest killer of people in the neighbourhood, followed by the rhino, wild elephant, leopard and the bear.

Human casualties

Year No of deaths

2003/04 10

2004/05 19

2005/06 NA

2006/07 12

2007/08 7

2008/09 9