Tourist arrival dismal at Banke National Park

Banke, March 1

At a time when the government has been marking the Visit Nepal Year 2020, the youngest national park, Banke National Park, is yet to see the number of tourists as expected.

The park was established a decade ago in view of the tigers’ habitat and biological route.  The government had enlisted the BNP in the 57th position among 100 tourist places in Nepal. The BNP is spread over 550 square km with some parts of Banke, Dang and Salyan districts. Home to biodiversity with flora and fauna, it is also a famous sanctuary for tiger conservation.

For tourism promotion, necessary infrastructure and facilities have been readied — view tower to see wild animals, jeep safari, trekking route, elephant safari etc.  The elephant safari was launched two months ago in a bid to attract tourists to BNP. Inaugurating the VNY 2020, Chief Minister of Province 5 Shankar Pokharel had said the elephant safari would help bring in more foreign and domestic tourists.

For attracting tourists, nine homestay facilities were begun in the villages in the vicinity of BNP- Balapur, Khadgabar and Gabhar. Tourists can enter the sanctuary from Obhari, Khadgabar, Buchchhapur, Gabhar and Agaiya.

From the view point of biodiversity, eight ecosystems are found in the BNP, it is said. Home to 124 wild plants, 32 reptiles, birds of over 300 species, 48 species of fish, 32 species of mammals and six species of amphibians, it has also 11 species of endangered mammals. Similarly, 50 species of birds found here are internationally endangered ones.

The last tiger census recorded 21 wild cats, said Chief Conservation Officer at BNP Pramod Bhattarai. He lamented that the number of expected tourists had not visited BNP despite such features. As two highways pass through the BNP, the wild animals are killed by passing vehicles. In the last five years, as many as 264 animals from the park were killed in road accidents.

For the security of the BNP, Nepali Army has been mobilised. Army personnel patrol the park round-the-clock.

Kohalpur Buffer Zone Consumers’ Committee Chair Sabitra Pun said people in the BNP vicinity are aware how the park could be conserved and how benefits can be reaped from it.