•      Sat Jul 13 2024

Insufficient budget poses challenges for wildlife conservation at CNP

Chitwan National Park

Chitwan, July 5: Budget inadequacy has posed challenges to efforts for the conservation of forest and wildlife at the Chitwan National Park (CNP).

The challenges are particularly for conserving rare wildlife. The lack of a sufficient budget has also led to a heightened risk of human-wildlife conflict.

According to CNP Chief Conservation Officer, Dil Bahadur Purja Pun, it costs around Rs 7 million a year to manage the crocodile breeding centers and enclosures for the rescued tigers.

Currently, the breeding center houses over 600 crocodiles while the CNP annually rescues five to seven tigers and takes care of them.  A tiger is fed five to seven kilos of buffalo meat in an interval of a day while crocodiles are fed fish that cost Rs 300- 350 per kg.  Buffalo meat costs Rs 400 per kg.

This year, the CNP received just Rs 3 million for the conservation of crocodiles and tigers, and it has been further reduced to Rs 2 million in the upcoming fiscal year. The budget allocations are getting deducted each year. Last year, it was Rs 3.5 million and Rs 5 million the previous year.

This ongoing budget reduction has compelled the park to reallocate funds from other headings to cover the expenses related to crocodile and tiger care.

However, he said that regular ration is continued for the 60 elephants inside the Park. The elephants are fed paddy, molasses and foliage. According to him, they are not in a position to feed nutritious food rich in protein like grams to the elephants as there is no additional budget allocated for this.

Similarly, difficulties have been faced in managing the animal habitat for the wild animals due to the paucity of funds. Problems have been faced in managing the grazing ground and water sources, and in rescuing wild animals due to the lack of adequate budget.

Park Information Officer Ganesh Prasad Tiwari said around 10,000 hectares of grassland is required for CNP. They had been managing this area of grassland in the past years also. But as the budget has been slashed, adequate works could not be carried out for managing grassland in the recent years.

CNP used to get Rs 30 million alone for arranging for grassland in the past years. However, only Rs 4 million has been released in the current fiscal year, Tiwari, the CNP Information Officer, said. They are facing problem carrying out cleaning, cutting grass and other works due to the reduced budget.

CNP data shows that the Park received Rs 30 million in Fiscal Year 2020/21for managing the grassland. This amount has been reduced over the years and it is only Rs 4 million.

According to Information Officer Tiwari, mobilizing the network of informers is vital for prevention of poaching activities. Budget has not been allocated under this heading for the coming fiscal year and this means that an important activity carried out for prevention of poaching is going to be affected.

Moreover, he said, although it is stated in the Park Buffer Zone Management Regulations, 2052 that 30 to 50 percent of the revenue collected in the buffer zone is shared with the CNP after making allocations to the buffer zone management committee, this budget is also greatly reduced over the years.

According to him, the annual budget exceeding Rs 120 million that the CNP used to receive has been decreased to half this amount at present.

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