PARKS AND WILDLIFE
A Bi-NationalPark For Everest?
For a whiie, it seemed that the plan to expand Sagarmatha National Park and to connect it to an even larger park… in Tibet was foundering. The plan for a bi-national park around Mount Everest was being pushed by the US-based Woodlands Mountain Institute and reportedly called for cross-border management of the unique mountain ecosystem.
But what seemed a sound environmental concept did not take sufficient account of geo-political concerns.
And so things remained until last August, when a task force was created to examine the possibilities of enlarging the park on the Nepal side and asked to submit a report within two years. It is now likely that two "contiguous" parks will be developed north and south of Everest in order to preserve one of the most rugged landscapes in the world.
The Woodlands Mountain Institute´s Heart of the Himalayas Conservation Programme, begun in 1983, is to pay for the expansion efforts in Nepal and Tibet. It has ambitious plans to raise U$10 million over 12 years to provide "parallel support" to the two park systems.
On the northern flanks of Mount Everest, Chinese authorities have reportedly outlined a huge nature preserve extending from the Arun river valley westward to the Langtang area north of Kathmandu, reaching sixty miles into Tibet.
Botanist Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha is a member of the Nepali task force. He says the proposed extension on the Nepali side will cover an additional area of about 1382 sq km, which will link the alpine ecology of the high-Himalaya to the dramatic cloud forests of the Barun River at elevations that reach as low as 1000 metres.
"It does not matter that the parks north and south of the Himalayan divide are separately managed, as long as they exchange notes occasionally," says a Nepali conservationist.
As it is, the management schemes are bound to differ, he says, "because the wet alpine conditions and severe population pressure in Nepal contrasts with the fragile environment north of Everest, which is more prone to disruption." — Binod Bhattarai
Upper Barun Valley.
Kaziranga Under Water
In September 1987, floods hit wildlife in Nepal´s Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. This September´s much more devastating deluge wreaked havoc among fauna in Assam´s Kaziranga National Park.
According to Forest Department officials, as many as 41 rhinos (including 23 calves), 1,050 deer, 69 wild boars, three baby elephants, two tigers and numerous small animals drowned because they could not find high ground. The actual figures are thought to be somewhat higher. The officials say that although the park experiences periodic flooding, this year´s was the worst in memory.
The Brahmaputra, which flows to the North and East of the park, submerged nearly 70 percent of its 430 sq km area this year. Although the Forest Department had created some "high ground" for animals to seek refuge, the exceptionally high level of waters rendered them useless.
Jawans For Janawars
The World Wildlife Fund-India is using help from an interesting source in monitoring and protecting wildlife in India´s high frontiers — the armed forces. WWF-India´s President, General Eustace d´Souza, told the BBC in September that Indian Army personnel, in co-operation with wildlife departments in the individual states, were participating in conservation efforts. The
Northern Command was especially active and had recently organized a workshop in Kashmir´s Dachigam
£" Sanctuary. Officers of the three
% services had discussed ways to enhance
Q wildlife protection.
S; In the Indian Air Force, it is standard practice to report unusual wildlife sightings. For example, said General d´Souza, a cargo plane had recently spotted a feral Bactrian camel and another a snow leopard and some Himalayan ibex. Each soldier in the Northern Command area now had a booklet to help him identify animal and plant species. They are also training local inhabitants on how to preserve forest cover and prevent landslides.
A Biosphere Reserved In Meghalaya
The Indian Environment and Forest Ministry has set up the Nokrek Biosphere Reserve in the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. The new reserve, covering nearly 50 sq km, is one of the least disturbed forest tracts in the Himalaya midhills and hosts a rich collection of flora and fauna. The undulating terrain of the reserve ranges in height from 300 to 1400 metres, the highest point being Nokrek Peak.
The Zoological and Botanical Survey of India has begun research on the flora and fauna at Nokrek. The Institute of Rain and Moist Deciduous Forests Research in Jorhat, the North Eastern Hill University and Guwahati University are also to undertake detailed study of the area.
New Delhi is said to have plans to set up ten more biosphere reserves, in addition to Nokrek and the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. The new reserves will include ones in Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Kaziranga and Manas in Assam and Sunderban in West Bengal.
Himal has finally been told the difference between national parks, sanctuaries and biosphere reserves in India. Says an informed wildlife source, national parks are for maintaining the integrity of an entire habitat, A sanctuary´s focus is primarily on protecting species. Biospheres are meant to "represent the entire ecosystem in a biogeographic area as well as its genetic diversity".
PARKS AND WILDLIFE