Wildlife hit as river changes course

Nepalgunj, January 26

Dwindling water level in the Karnali River that runs through Bardiya National Park has been affecting wildlife here.

As the river runs low and has changed its course lately, wildlife species such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and the likes, which depend on the river for water, have been affected. Water crisis has become so severe that the national park authority has put in place some provisional measure to supply water by using solar technology in over two dozen places within the park.

Earlier, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation had asked Bardiya National Park to remove huge deposit of gravel and sand at Lalmatiya, stating that the deposit was changing the course of the Karnali River, but that was unheeded.

According to BNP ranger Sandesh Poudel, it is impossible to clear the huge silt deposit with the help of staffers at the national park alone. “It’s true that the department had told us to clear huge deposit of silt.

But, doing so was not possible at our initiative alone,” he said.

Rafting in the river has stopped due to dwindling water flow and dolphins that could be seen in the river earlier have gone out of sight. The drying river has also affected farmers downstream, who irrigate their fields with the water from it. As per the data of the Rajapur-based Karnali River Management Project, around 5,000 hectare farmland in Manau, Khairechandanpur, Patabhar and Pashupatinagar villages have been affected by the lean water flow in the river.

“There is no other option but to return the river to its previous course if we want to end the plight of wild animlas in the park, end irrigation problems and prevent possible encroachment on the river banks,” said Poudel.