Vol 2 | No. 1 | Spring 2017 WWF Nepal Newsletter

MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVE

 

Dear friends of WWF Nepal,

Welcome to the spring edition of Inside the Himalayas which incorporates some of the key conservation highlights and issues from Nepal.

In this edition, we reinforce the call to action against poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and the importance of working together towards this end. Between February 2015 and January 2016, fourteen cases of illegal trade of tiger parts were recorded in various districts of Nepal bringing to light the constant threat to Nepal’s tiger conservation efforts. Thanks to a swift and coordinated response from the government to the grassroots level, Nepal was successful in containing this threat while it still looms large. This ‘together possible’ story leads on to our work with local communities through a first-person narrative on the role and importance of local stewardship and youth in antipoaching. Nepal’s antipoaching success also hinges on our investment in new technologies to aid frontline staff in the fight against wildlife crime. One such technology is the Real-time SMART Patrols currently being implemented successfully in all tiger-bearing protected areas of the Terai Arc Landscape. We invite you to a visual tour of this new patrol technique developed by the Nepal Army in collaboration with WWF Nepal.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Inside the Himalayas. Thank you for all your support in helping us deliver on our conservation promise.
Happy reading!

Anil Manandhar

Country Representative

TOWARDS ZERO TRADE

 

– Simrika Sharma, Senior Communications Officer

Enforcement agencies arrested around two dozen people from various parts of Nepal together with one dozen tiger skins and body parts between 2015-2016. Nepal forged efforts to address this possible resurgence of poaching activities in the country towards eliminating the tiger trade.

TOWARDS ZERO TRADE

TOWARDS ZERO TRADE

On 5 May 2015, the Regional Investigation Bureau deployed from the far-west regional police office confiscated a tiger skin and bones from a person in Magragadi village of Bardia district. Ten days later, a tiger skin and 18 kilograms of tiger bones were additionally seized near Shuklaphanta National Park. Similarly, on the eastern side of Nepal, two people were arrested in possession of a tiger skin.

These cases were but part of the fourteen that occurred between February 2015 and January 2016 in various districts of Nepal. In this series of consecutive poaching incidents, and probably the highest in Nepal so far, 124 kilograms of tiger bones and 15 tiger skins and body parts were seized from around two dozen poachers.

These recurring incidents came as a serious threat to decades of tiger conservation efforts and Nepal’s quest to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 – a commitment made by Nepal at the Global Tiger Forum in 2010. Nepal was already making strides on this front given the increase in its tiger population to a current estimate of 198 – a growth of 63% from the 2009 estimate – all made possible by the unity of purpose amongst the government of Nepal, enforcement agencies, conservation organizations and local communities.

Another striking finding that came out from these arrests was the involvement of the Banjara community – one of the nomad communities found in temporary settlements in the areas bordering Nepal and India.

“These constant arrests particularly from the far and mid-western development regions whose forests serve as important tiger habitats, raised serious question over our years of conservation and enforcement effort,” said Ramesh Thapa, Chief Conservation Officer, Bardia National Park. “The involvement of the Banjara community in tiger poaching signaled a new threat and as an immediate step, we called for a high level meeting which later actioned a three-point strategy to address this issue”, Thapa added.


The Beginning

On 26 January 2016 the high level coordination meeting called under the leadership of Bardia National Park brought together Nepal’s key players in tiger conservation. The meeting concluded with an unwavering commitment from the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Department of Forests, Nepal Army, Nepal Police and WWF to address the root of the problem. As immediate measures, the focus was on strengthening the enforcement network both from the national parks and Nepal Army, expanding the scale of sweeping operations and anti-poaching technologies such as Real Time SMART patrolling, and mobilizing Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (CBAPU) and mass media for wider awareness and sensitization.

The launch of ‘Zero Absconding Criminals’ campaign

Following the high level meeting, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police with the support from WWF, launched the Zero Absconding Criminal Campaign to bring to book as many criminals on the run. “Out of the names of 161 absconding criminals provided by Bardia National Park, 80 were arrested by the CIB” said Praveen Pokharel, the Deputy Inspector General of CIB. “During the operation, we were also able to seize 6 tiger skins and 85 kilograms of tiger bones from 4 different places” Pokharel added. During the campaign, in February 2016, the CIB also took part in the Investigation Support Meeting organized by INTERPOL. The meeting that saw participation from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India, discussed and identified eight poaching and trading networks operating in both the sides of Indo-Nepal border. Out of this, one network was immediately cracked down by CIB within one month. The CIB team was also able to arrest, Sher Lama the kingpin of the eight networks who had been mobilizing the Banjara communities for poaching.

Strengthening the frontliners

Within the buffer zone of Bardia National Park in the Terai Arc Landscape there are a total of 21 CBAPUs with a membership of about 2,700 youth who have been voluntarily monitoring illegal activities around buffer zones and community forests and providing tipoffs to police and army about possible suspects. “Following the high level meeting all the CBAPU members were effectively mobilized for intelligence gathering and awareness raising”, said Hemanta Prasad Acharya, Chairperson of one of the CBAPUs in Bardia. “We started joint patrolling with the Nepal Army and conducted various awareness campaigns such as street dramas and social media campaigns on tiger conservation. We also collected suggestions from the local people on how tigers can be protected effectively and submitted them to Bardia National Park” opined Acharya.

Mobilizing the fourth pillar

Considered as the fourth pillar of the nation, the media has a huge role to play in shaping public perception and opinion. In order to build greater awareness amongst the media, sensitization workshops were conducted for local journalist of Bardia district which helped broaden their understanding on wildlife crime control and the role of media to address it. As a result, all the local media houses came together to highlight the issue of tiger poaching. Bhabuk yogi, station manager at Radio Tiger FM said, “Every day we announced the names of absconded criminals and poachers arrested by the CIB on the radio. As informed by CIB, some poachers who were at large, upon hearing their names frequently on radio surrendered themselves too”. Yogi was threatened over the phone numerous times but none of them detracted his role towards building a more informed society when it came to tiger conservation.

This swift response to poaching and illegal wildlife trade underscores the commitment of Nepal towards tiger conservation. This Himalayan country is steadfast in its belief to find a better future for tigers and through a coordinated conservation machinery that binds the government and enforcement agencies, conservation organizations such as WWF, and the local communities, the future does seem as bright as this iconic species in the forest of the night.

THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN

– Simrika Sharma, Senior Communications Officer

A look into the other side of Nepal’s zero poaching success.

THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN

THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN

“This is probably the first time someone came to our house asking about us and not our husbands.” With these words, Motimaya Praja, 30 years of age, began her story as the wife of a poacher.

In January 2015, two years after fleeing Nepal, her husband, Raj Kumar Praja, was tracked down in Malaysia and extradited to Nepal a month later. Raj Kumar is accused of killing 19 endangered one-horned rhinos, and is currently facing a jail term of 15 years in Bharatpur, Chitwan.

Motimaya got married to Raj Kumar when she was just 16 years old. Their house is in Kalikhola of Korak village, inhabited primarily by indigenous Chepang people, who are well known for their skills in hunting. Raj Kumar’s family had migrated to Korak 35 years ago.

While her husband serves time in prison, Motimaya and their two children are left to fend for themselves. Her small village house is not descriptive of the millions of rupees Raj Kumar is reported to have earned selling rhino horns. “Whatever money he must have made, he never brought it home,” says Motimaya.

Motimaya has faint memories of the times she spent together with her husband. He stayed away from home, almost all the time. She says she was even unaware of what Raj Kumar was up to until the security personnel started showing up at her home repeatedly, looking for her husband.

Motimaya visits her husband only two times in a year. “I cannot find the time to meet him,” she says. “I need to do everything by myself here – from looking after the children, to doing the household chores and making money to make ends meet. Our village is also without motorable roads so it is quite inconvenient getting out every now and then.”


Adjacent to Motimaya’s house, lives her sister-in-law Leela Kumari Praja who has a similar story to tell. Leela’s husband (and Raj Kumar’s elder brother), Dal Bahadur Praja, wasn’t directly involved in poaching but was arrested for being an accomplice six years ago.

A mother of three, Leela suffered a tragic loss of one of her children while her husband was still in custody. She feels there should be a difference in the penal system when it came to a poacher and an accomplice. “While I condemn the actions of my husband in being an accomplice to poaching, all I know is that my husband never killed a rhino hence he shouldn’t have been sent behind bars for ten long years,” she exclaims.

Being the wife of a poacher or an accomplice makes us live with a constant stigma, Leela laments. According to her, people from outside the village have the notion that everyone residing in Korak is a rhino poacher. “The actions of our husbands have made us social outcastes. We consider ourselves the forgotten children of society,” she adds.

Motimaya and Leela speak for the many families in Korak that have been left abandoned, and having to face consequent hardships such as lack of guardianship, difficult finances and social exclusion. The change in social dynamics in the village is also another factor. In Kalikhola alone, three houses have converted to Christianity as they feel more included in that community. A poacher’s wife left for employment in the middle-east leaving her children to fend for themselves. Children of three families whose fathers are in prison have taken to drugs.

According to Dharma Raj Lama, secretary of Kaminchuli Biodiversity Conservation Society, a group carrying out various conservation activities in Korak“, what looms large over the people of Korak is the probability of the poachers’ children becoming the second generation involved in wildlife crime considering they have traditional knowledge in hunting and are unemployed and may therefore choose poaching as an easy way to earn money. He feels ignoring this situation could pose threats for the future.

He considers awareness and inclusion as primary tools to help address this, by building their understanding as well as engagement in biodiversity conservation while building their acceptance in society.

Madhav Khadka, Manager of the Wildlife Trade Monitoring unit at WWF Nepal reiterates this point. According to him, package programs that enhance the understanding of the community on the significance of conservation and engage them in livelihoods opportunities are essential for the people of Korak.

So far, through the Corridor and Bottleneck Restoration Project (CBRP) of the Terai Arc Landscape program of the Government of Nepal and WWF, a few conservation initiatives such as agro-based farming, skilled-based trainings for the youth, establishment of Community Based Anti-Poaching Unit and eco clubs have been carried out in ward numbers 5 and 6 of Korak. But there clearly is a lot more that can be done.

“So far we’ve only had fingers pointed at us. If we were to be lent a hand in conservation, we would happily walk this journey together,” claimed Motimaya with a glint of hope.

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS

– Akash Shrestha, Deputy Director-Communications Outreach

A first person narrative on local stewardship in conservation and anti-poaching, and the conservation payback for communities.

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS

My name is Bal Kumari Mahato and I come from a small village called Baghkhor in Nepal overlooking Chitwan National Park. At 19 years, I feel proud to be making a difference in protecting my community forest from poaching and wildlife crimes.

I am one of the twenty members of the community-based anti-poaching unit in my village. We are a voluntary outfit, taking time off on Saturdays to get together and head out to the forest in search of illegal activities and making sure our forests, which my community has been managing for more than a decade, are safe from poaching and illegal logging.

Our anti-poaching unit was established a year ago in 2015 and till date, we haven’t reported a single case of poaching. But this was not the case many years ago when my village was just being built. As a child, I was aware of the local villagers hunting wildlife, primarily deer and wild boars, for their personal needs. Forests, back then, were also cut down as clearings for the village and agriculture and to serve household needs for firewood.

However, things have changed a lot ever since our local community got together, understanding the importance of intact forests, and organizing themselves into a community forest users group to manage the forest and set rules for the sustainable use of its resources. Rhinos and tigers now walk freely in this safe refuge and my village opened its doors to tourism through a growing homestay program established back in 2013 allowing outside people to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The new income earned from the homestay program has been a huge boost to our morale; we consider it an incentive for all the work we have put into building our forests and protecting nature’s bounty that we can sustainably benefit from.

I feel all of this gives me and my team a huge responsibility, to safeguard all that my community has helped build over the years. This is why we chose to walk the path set by our elders, literally.

On a normal Saturday, we first get together at our office to discuss on the course of the day, chalking out a patrol plan from morning to evening. Each member brings food from home which we share during our lunch break in the forest. Armed with nothing but a wooden stick, we head out in groups of eight to ten members in our weekly patrols that last about eight hours. Most of the time, we come across people who have illegally entered the community forest for firewood or fodder. We make it a point to convince them of their wrong-doing and sometimes fine the perpetrators and confiscate axes and sickles that they carry. We have recently introduced night patrols too thanks to the support of WWF. We have been provided with jackets, hats, tents, torchlights and field gear, all of which have helped in our patrols. All the work that we do is voluntary and support such as this is much needed.

On any other day, we could get a call from the local community at any time if they spot a problem that requires the help of my unit. In one particular incident, a rhino had entered the village and it was quite a task for us to guide it back to the forest. And it wasn’t just the rhino we had to guide but also the local people who were obviously quite surprised with the spectacle with some of them trying to approach the rhino for a photograph! This is why we also spend a lot of time with the local people in the village, going from household to household, speaking to them about conservation and the need to be responsible when it came to wildlife, the forests, and its natural resources.

Though our anti-poaching unit is a little more than a year old, I feel we need to start looking into the future already to look at ways we can sustain our operations. As one idea, I think it is important that we create a small fund within the unit from which we can reimburse recurring expenses involved in our anti-poaching operations for things as simple as phone call charges, for example. Personal insurance could also be something to consider in the future as we work in the frontlines, in the forests, in the broader fight against wildlife crime.

Before I joined the anti-poaching unit, I considered myself just another girl in the village, busy with her books and a household help. Today, I feel there is much more to my existence. I have grown together with these forests and it is a bond that I will need to protect and nurture, as a guardian and the guarded.

WWF works with local communities in Nepal to build conservation stewardship for the sustainable management of forests and natural resources. There are presently over 400 community-based anti-poaching units being supported by WWF in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.

CONSERVATION CONVERSATION


How do you define the current status of species conservation in Nepal with reference to wildlife trade?

Nepal is known to be one of the most successful countries when it comes to species conservation programs. The anti-poaching efforts in Nepal is a testament to the integrated efforts of the Government of Nepal, enforcement agencies, local communities and conservation organizations such as WWF. Looking back, the year 2010 laid the foundations to Nepal’s wildlife crime control strategy. Despite several political transitions since 2010, curbing wildlife crime has been a priority for every government that came to power. Over this period of six years, various government-led institutions like National Tiger Conservation Committee (NTCC), Wildlife Crime Control Coordination Committee (WCCCC), and the Wildlife Crime Coordination Bureau (WCCB) and its district cells for coordinating and implementing law enforcement have been established. Likewise, institutionalization of a separate specialized pillar to look after wildlife crime under the Nepal Police, and transboundary cooperation with China and India are some of the significant steps which resulted in achieving four distinct 365-day periods without a single case of rhino poaching recorded.

 

How was celebrating zero poaching for the fourth time since 2011 possible for Nepal and what should be done to sustain the success?

This success is the best example of what we call “together possible”. The endorsement of the wildlife crime control strategy in 2010 garnered the commitment of the highest political authority, the prime minister of Nepal, national and international conservation organizations, grassroots communities and enforcement agencies to work together to combat poaching. Nepal’s success also largely rests on the stringent enforcement measures within and outside the protected areas by the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and local communities complemented by the use of cutting-edge technologies. Round the clock surveillance of protected areas by the Nepal Army, breaking down the illegal trade nexus right from the ground to the international level by the Nepal Police together with international enforcement agencies and Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (CBAPU), and the use of tools and technologies such as Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV), sniffer dogs, SMART-eye and Real time SMART Patrolling have made the conservation efforts more effective and efficient. While achieving this success did not come easily, it would be all the more difficult to sustain it. For this, Nepal will require ample resources and unity of purpose among all the stakeholders. Likewise, our multi-agency integrated efforts must be continued and together with further emphasis on strengthening and promoting regional and trans-boundary cooperation.

 

Nepal is a transit hub for trading wildlife parts. What are Nepal’s efforts in strengthening trans-boundary cooperation with China and India to mitigate wildlife trade in the region?

Nepal is a source as well as transit country for trading wildlife parts given its location between India and China. Hence, regional and trans-boundary cooperation is crucial to break the demand and supply chain of wildlife trafficking. Considering the illegal trade of wildlife parts, a series of trans-boundary meetings between neighboring India and China started since 1997. Later in the year 2010, a formal Memorandum of Understanding was signed with China and a similar resolution with India on biodiversity conservation. Regular local and central level meetings and dialogues were frequently held between Nepal and its neighbors. Nepal is also a member of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and hosts its Secretariat.

 

What should Nepal’s future outlook be in species conservation?

With the successful conservation measures, wildlife populations are on the rise in Nepal. An immediate challenge is expected to be rising cases of human-wildlife conflict which would require the attention of the government and its partners so that together with creating coexistence, the security of people and wildlife should also be maintained. Additionally, the growing development needs of the country and the focus on infrastructure development will need to be balanced whereby such development does not come at the cost of the environment.

SHUKLAPHANTA NATIONAL PARK GETS NEW RHINOS AFTER 17 YEARS

Shuklaphanta, Nepal’s youngest national park, received a Greater one-horned rhino seventeen years since the last translocation from Chitwan National Park on April 4, 2017. The rhino is one of the five that will be translocated to Shuklaphanta National Park. An additional five rhinos will be translocated to Bardia National Park in the same expedition, which is part of the larger effort to move 30 rhinos to the two national parks between 2016 and 2018.

© WWF Nepal

30 elephants and about 250 people were involved in the translocation operations between Chitwan National Park and Shuklaphanta National Park.

© WWF Nepal

The technical team prepares the sedative to dart the rhino for the collaring and translocation process.

© WWF Nepal

A member of the technical team takes aim to dart the rhino for sedation.

© WWF Nepal

Dr. Kanchan Thapa from WWF Nepal fixes a satellite-GPS collar on the rhino prior to translocation. The collar will provide valuable information on the translocated rhino in Shuklaphanta.

© WWF Nepal

The collared rhino is loaded on a ramp before loading it on the enclosure of the truck for translocation to Shuklaphanta.

© WWF Nepal

The collared rhino is loaded on a special enclosure of a truck to transport it to Shuklaphanta from Chitwan.

© WWF Nepal

The rhino travels nearly 600km by road from Chitwan to its new home in Shuklaphanta.

© WWF Nepal

The translocated rhino is an adult male about 12 years of age. The rhino will be joined by an additional four from Chitwan with the aim of creating a viable population of rhinos in Shuklaphanta.

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NEPAL SHINES A LIGHT ON CLIMATE ACTION

On 25 March, Earth Hour came live with a mass convergence of over 2000 youth, musical band, opinion leader’s conservation partners and the locals in one of an ancient medieval city Bhaktapur Durbar Square -one of the UNESCO world heritage sites within Kathmandu Valley.

The event saw, performance of distinct fusion of circus, theatre, dance and cutting edge art forms to create an exciting form of entertainment by Circus Kathmandu, musical performance by Nepal’s first female acoustic band and 60+ installation art created from recycle bottles, illuminated from the power generated by riding stationary bicycles.

© WWF Nepal

Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung - Senior Conservation Program Director / WWF Nepal

© WWF Nepal

Kathmandu Circus awes over 2000 people who participated in the Earth Hour event with their performance.

© WWF Nepal

Kathmandu Circus awes over 2000 people who participated in the Earth Hour event with their performance.

© WWF Nepal

Kathmandu Circus awes over 2000 people who participated in the Earth Hour event with their performance.

© WWF Nepal

Kathmandu Circus awes over 2000 people who participated in the Earth Hour event with their performance.

© WWF Nepal

60+ created by locals of Bhaktapur from butter lamps.

© WWF Nepal

The first female acoustic band, Shree Tara joins WWF Nepal to mark the Earth Hour.

© WWF Nepal

The first female acoustic band, Shree Tara joins WWF Nepal to mark the Earth Hour.

© WWF Nepal

60+ installation created from the recycled bottles concludes Earth Hour event in Nepal as a showstopper.

© WWF Nepal

60+ installation created from the recycled bottles concludes Earth Hour event in Nepal as a showstopper.

© WWF Nepal

The famous Nyatapole Temple of Bhaktapur gets illuminated at the tenth Earth Hour celebration.

© WWF Nepal

Kathmandu Circus awes over 2000 people who participated in the Earth Hour event with their performance.

© WWF Nepal

The famous Nyatapole Temple of Bhaktapur gets illuminated at the tenth Earth Hour celebration.

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TECH FOR TIGERS

Nepal pioneered the use of Real-time SMART Patrols in all tiger-bearing protected areas of the Terai Arc Landscape. This new patrol technique developed by the Nepal Army in collaboration with WWF Nepal makes use of an android-based app on mobile devices through which patrol teams record and update patrolling and locational data in real-time. Real-time SMART Patrol enables 24-hour monitoring of patrol teams from the park headquarters, and has helped enhance the scale and reach of antipoaching response. Real-time SMART Patrols are the latest addition in the use of technology to curb poaching and aid enforcement efforts within protected areas. With Nepal leading the way in antipoaching through the achievement of 365 days of zero poaching of rhinos four times since 2011, the successful implementation of new technologies such as Real-Time SMART can also be showcased as a learning tool for countries beyond Nepal.

SHUKLAPHANTA – NEPAL’S YOUNGEST NATIONAL PARK

Shuklaphanata Wildlife Reserve, one of the critical wildlife habitats in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape became the country’s youngest national park on March 3, 2017 – an upgrade in the IUCN list by two steps. The national park status will open up opportunities for wildlife tourism and promote usage rights of indigenous communities on natural resources, both of which are otherwise restricted in a wildlife reserve.

Shuklaphanta National Park was established as a hunting reserve in 1969 and gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1976 with the primary objective to conserve swamp deer. The national park currently hosts about 2,000 swamp deer (the single largest herd in the world), and an estimated 17 wild tigers.

TRANSLOCATED: WILD WATER BUFFALO

For the first time in Nepal, Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) locally known as Arna was successfully translocated from Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve to Chitwan National Park on 27th January, 2017.

On 25th January, 2017, a female wild water buffalo was captured using a tranquillizer gun and the next day a male was darted. The pair was translocated via truck to Chitwan National Park. This historic achievement has given momentum with plans to translocate additional 18 Wild Water Buffalos from Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve to Chitwan National Park.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the only habitat of Wild Water Buffalo in Nepal with an estimated 432 individual as per the count conducted in 2016. Since it is the only habitat, the species are in constant threat of being extinct from Nepal in case of habitat loss, degradation, climate change induced disasters and other natural calamities. The primary objective of the translocation is to establish a second ecologically viable population in Chitwan National Park. 

NEPAL GEARS UP FOR CLIMATE-SMART SNOW LEOPARD CONSERVATION

Reiterating Nepal’s commitment to snow leopard conservation, Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal pledged NRs. 50 million to conserve Nepal’s snow leopards. The pledge came amid the opening ceremony of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) steering committee meeting in Kathmandu on 20 January 2017. During the ceremony, Prime Minister Dahal launched the new National Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan 2017-2021 for Nepal which sets the stage for Nepal to achieve its global commitments, especially to ensure 100 breeding snow leopards in three of its landscapes by 2020.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Dahal said “Snow leopards are the guardians of the water towers and the indicator of the health of the ecosystem. Thus it is not just the responsibility of a handful of snow leopard range nations to protect the snow leopard habitat. It is the need of everyone who needs clean air and water.”

The meeting saw delegates from twelve snow leopard range countries coming together to strengthen their commitment to snow leopard conservation.

NICK HOULT FOR RHINO CONSERVATION

Actor Nicholas Hoult teamed up with WWF to raise funds for rhino conservation in Nepal. The funds raised through the 3,000km Rickshaw Run in India by Nicholas Hoult is provided to WWF Nepal to support the rhino translocation program that aims to create a second viable rhino population in Nepal. In his maiden visit to Nepal, Nicholas visited Chitwan National Park, home to around 605 of the country’s 645 rhinos and 120 of the estimated 198 tigers in Nepal. He participated in a rhino monitoring activity and met park staff and discussed protection efforts within protected areas and buffer zones, as well as the use of new technologies in antipoaching. Nicholas also visited Bagkhor village in Nawalparasi overlooking Chitwan National Park. Here he met with the local community protecting forest landscapes from poaching and illegal wildlife crimes. Rhinos and tigers now walk freely in this safe refuge and the village opened its doors to tourism through a growing homestay program established in 2013.

The rhino translocation scheduled for early April in Nepal will provide a new home for about ten of Chitwan’s rhinos in Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta National Park. It is led by Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation with the support of WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation, the Nepal Army and local communities.

GREEN RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION

Adhering to the mega earthquake in April 2015 in Nepal, the USAID funded Hariyo Ban Program of WWF Nepal formally introduced Green Recovery and Reconstruction (GRR) program to enhance the resilience of earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction efforts in Nepal by identifying and integrating sound environmental practices.

As the situation after disaster was relatively new and challenging, various studies like Post Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNA), Rapid Environmental Assessment(REA), guidelines and training manual development were carried out. These various studies have helped undertake advocacy and outreach on GRR at the national level and also assess and estimate damages and losses on Environment and Forest in the disaster prone areas. The REA carried out under this program that highlights GRR action plan has already been endorsed by the Ministry of Science Technology and Environment.

With the support of this program, a total of 867 people from parliament, politics, engineering, architecture, media, WASH, implementing agencies, District Forest office etc. have been oriented on activities related to GRR. The main aim of the training was to work both directly with existing partners and indirectly through multiple sectors to promote approaches to build back better, safer and greener for more resilient Nepal.

NEPAL’S YOUTH KICKSTART GREEN ENTERPRISING SOLUTIONS

WWF Nepal’s The Generation Green campaign embarked on green entrepreneurship through the Greenovation Startup Challenge (GSC) – a platform that nurtures and transforms innovative green entrepreneurship ideas of young passionate entrepreneurs into tangible business enterprises.

On 20 November 2016, top twelve green ideas competed against each other at the final award gala of the Greenovation Startup Challenge. Four outstanding green business ideas namely Ground Apple, Tyre Treasure, Sishnu, Chepang Ra Paryatan and Wood Gas Stove were awarded with a seed amount of Rs 150,000 each to start their ventures.

WWF Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Entrepreneurs’ Hub (NEHUB) kicked off GSC on 13 September 2016 and within a period of two months, 55 shortlisted participants out of the 160 applicants were mentored to build a common understanding of entrepreneurship and green enterprise principles which would help them turn their green business ideas into reality. 50 initial pitches were made and shortlisted to the final twelve through a voting system involving the participants themselves. The twelve ideas and their corresponding group underwent an intense 54-hour Startup Residential Weekend Marathon Session from 17-19 November in preparation for the final pitches at the award gala.