CHITWAN : Grasslands are decreasing in Chitwan National Park, the oldest national park of Nepal, every year.
Until 1970, 20 percent of the park area used to be covered with grasslands. Now, the grasslands have shrunken to only 9.61 percent (8, 955 hectare). Chitwan National Park covers an area of 952.63 square kilometer. Wild animals in the National Park have been facing the problem of prey at present as the number of vegetarian animals are increasing and the grasslands are decreasing every year. There are 425 grasslands in the National Park.
According to the statistics of National Park, it has been found that the grasslands of National Park should be managed and expanded as the number of deer and boar, among other animals, is increasing gradually. According to a study carried out in 2015, the number of rhino was 605 and no authority has conducted any study since then.
Chief Conservation Officer at the National Park Narayan Prasad Rupakheti said that works have already been started to expand the grasslands. He said that 165 hectares of grasslands were managed in the last fiscal year and they are planning to expand up to 700 this year.
Wildlife expert Udaya Raj Sharma assumed that the grasslands have been decreasing every year as most of them have been changed into forest due to the National Park. Nevertheless, the National Park should conserve the grasslands and can adopt a cheap way for the same. He said that the concerned authority should grant permission to cut the grass of grasslands once in a year. “The new grass will grow if the consumers are granted permission to cut the grass for some days in a year. This method can be used in the National Park of Tarai region,” he said, adding, “Vegetarian wild animals also love soft grass.”
Not only wild animals, vegetarian animals have also started entering human settlements in recent time, he said, stressing the need to manage the grasslands. Mikania, the most common invasive plant species of Chitwan National Park, has also been increasing in the National Park. Moreover, Mikania and Parthenium have also been destroying the grasslands of the National Park. Mikania, locally known as Banmara, have been destroying the trees and plants. As a result, wild animals have started changing their habitats in search of prey species.