Beauty with the Beasts
On the occasion of World Environment Day 2006, the Conservation Ambassador accompanied by a WWF Nepal team and a journalist traveled to Nepal’s first protected area, Chitwan National Park between 4-7 June.
Sugarika visited the Gharial Breeding Centre and was briefed about WWF Nepal’s various conservation activities inside the protected area by Purna Kunwar, Sector Manager – Terai Arc Landscape Programme. During the jungle drive to the Centre, two female rhinos were seen cooling off in the shallow waters of Kamal Tal. Some trails inside the park were closed as they were deemed treacherous following the monsoon rains.
WWF Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape Programme had organized a street theatre to raise community support against rhino poaching in the buffer zone area around the park. The drama was performed by famous Nepali TV personalities and drew enormous crowds on all 16 performances held at various villages in Nepal. The inaugural show was at the grounds of Bhimoday High School in New Padampur. The show attracted more than 2,000 people. Sugarika addressed the crowd, stressing on the importance of being vigilant against poaching and to maintain the rich biodiversity in the Terai. She met several children of the school’s Eco Club as well as other youth who were delighted to meet a well known public figure.
WWF Nepal has made considerable investments in New Padampur. This community was relocated from inside Chitwan National Park and resettled at New Padampur. Sugarika met local women who proudly showed her toilet-attached biogas and improved cooking stoves.
“We don’t rely on wood as much as before and our health has improved because there is less smoke inside the house,” shared Kamala Bhattarai of the local women’s group.
The group runs a micro-finance credit scheme and other activities that have improved incomes and the status of women. She also met a recently instituted anti-poaching youth awareness group who were successful in apprehending a group of timber smugglers on their first night patrol. For lunch, the Conservation Ambassador, along with the team, had the opportunity of sampling a traditional Tharu meal at New Padampur. Sugarika, a vegetarian, politely declined the culinary highlight—curried snails called “ghunghi”.
This visit to Chitwan National Park was a first for the Conservation Ambassador who enjoyed birdwatching, an elephant safari, and a visit to the Elephant Breeding Centre.
“My trip to Chitwan was adventurous, fun and most importantly, I learned a lot about conservation—things I could never get from a book,” said Sugarika.
WWF Nepal team:
Sugarika KC, Conservation Ambassador and Miss Nepal 2005
Purna Bahadur Kunwar, Sector Manager - TAL PABZ
Kanchan Thapa, Research Officer
Mohammed Hanif, Intern Communications
Trishna Gurung, Communications & Education Manager
Journalist: Prerana Marasini, journalist from Himalmedia.
Observer: Prof Jean-Marc Hero, Griffith University, Australia