Friday, 6 February 2009
This morning’s (normally excellent) Nepali Times cover story is based on the national tiger census that has been taking place over the last couple of months. The article claims that the tiger numbers are “bouncing back” however later in the piece I read that the number of tigers actually identified is about the same as in the last census of 2000.
In spite of this apparent good news it has been a bad week for Nepal’s endangered species. In Chitwan, for the first time ever, a rhino had its horn removed by poachers without them killing the animal. One shudders to contemplate the agony that this animal must have experienced and continues to suffer. The incident took place near one of the Nepal Army checkpoints that guards the National Park’s animals and many believe that this was an inside job.
Elsewhere there was short-lived excitement at three freshwater Gangetic Dolphins being rescued by Army personnel after they had become trapped in a pond adjacent to the Koshi river. The dolphins were returned to the mainstream but one has since died. It seems that brainless locals got there first and put poison into the pond. And they got there first because conservation officers who should have conducted the rescue operation were off attending a meaningless “bird festival” somewhere.
When I read of all of this I am struck by how Nepal’s beautiful and fragile wildlife is so at the mercy of wicked, heartless people and hostage to the ineptitude or indifference of those who should be its protectors. Just like Nepal’s children.