Nighttime Jeep safari in national park will affect wild animals: Conservationists

Kathmandu : Environment conservationists have said that the government’s plan to operate nighttime Jeep safari in the Chitwan National Park is a bad idea and it will affect the wildlife.

The remarks were made as the authority is gearing up to start nighttime Jeep safari at Chitwan National Park, the oldest national park in Nepal and popular for one-horned rhino and tiger, targeting Visit Nepal 2020.

Dr. Tirtha Bd Shrestha

“What’s the objective of national park? Is it conservation or hunting?” Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha questioned. “If the National Park is established for conservation than nighttime Jeep safari is not a good idea. If the government wants to operate nighttime Jeep safari to earn money than it should make its objective clear” he added.

The government has announced twelve national parks, six conservation areas and 13 buffer zones since 1967 for the conservation of wildlife and bio diversity.  Nepal has been praised time and again in the international level for its huge contribution in conserving wild animals. Foreign tourists come to Chitwan National Park to see one-horned rhino, elephant and tiger, among other wild animals.

Conservationists said that the government is planning to operate nighttime Jeep safari with an objective to earn money that will hugely affect the wild animals. The latest example is the plan to operate Jeep safari, cable car or to open hotels and restaurants in Shivapuri National Park.

Dr Shrestha expressed his dissatisfaction over the government’s plan to operate nighttime Jeep safari rather than taking initiatives to conserve the wildlife. “This is not a conservation-friendly move. Operating Jeep safari in the habitat of wild animals during the night time will disturb them. Wild animals will migrate to other places if they feel insecure,” Dr Shrestha said.

Kamal Jung kunwar

Former chief warden of Chitwan National Park Kamal Jung Kunwar agreed with Dr Shrestha. “Jeep safari should not be operated before the sun rise and after the sun set.

This is the time for wild animals to take rest, hunt and graze,” he said.

Chitwan National Park has been recording zero-poaching of wild animals in the recent years. The cause behind the death of one-horned rhinos, elephants and tigers, among other animals, in the recent time was natural calamities.

The government is preparing to operate nighttime Jeep safari after Tihar to attract tourists in Sauraha. The area where the government is planning to operate nighttime Jeep safari is occupied by buffer zone and community forest.

Deepak Bhattarai, Chairman of Regional Hotel Association Chitwan, said that the route to operate nighttime Jeep safari has already been fixed. Preparations are being made to operate nighttime Jeep safari from Sauraha to Lothar via Kumroj Buffer Zone Community Forest.

Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park Narayan Rupekheti said that all the activities will be carried out for Visit Nepal 2020 as per the National Park Act. “Special attention will be given while operating Jeep safari and other activities in the national park,” he said.

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