Poachers rule the roost in hunting reserve

Gyanendra Gautam

Baglung, July 8:

The Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in Baglung, the only one in the country, is facing a grave threat from poachers. No government department has set up an office here to look after the reserve, work for its conservation and curb the illegal trade of the national bird the Monal Pheasant, wild sheep and rare herbs that has flourished in the past two and half years. Though hunting is permitted in the reserve, one has to go through certain legal procedures.

The office of the reserve was shifted to the district headquarters, Baglung, in June 2001 after the Maoists attacked the office. This has resulted in officials having a tough time to reach the reserve and conduct their work. The annual wildlife census shows a declining number of fauna in the reserve. It also reveals that over 500 traps were set up there.

The first census after the office was shifted put the number of wild sheep at 2200, while this year, the number is a mere 563, the office said. The leader of the survey team, game scout Tul Bahadur Poudel, said armed poachers enter the reserve with traps and axes. According to him, they were unable to do anything even when they caught the poachers as the latter were armed. The team found only four grazing areas among the seven for wild sheep. Herbs like Yarsa Gumba, panchaaunle, bikhma, bish are smuggled into China and India. Uncontrolled grazing is another cause of ecosystem being affected. Local hunters, too, venture into the reserve for their daily dose of meat. The government introduced royalty for hunting in 1982 to preserve the forest and wild animals in the reserve that covers an area of 1325 sq km and spreads across Baglung, Myagdi and Rukum.