Banking for crocodiles
Inhabitants of an important Ramsar site get a helping hand
Ghodaghodi Lake, one of four Ramsar sites in Nepal, is rich in biodiversity. Various important wildlife species and people rely on the wetland resources. This lake used to be a good habitat for endangered species of crocodile and turtles, but because of heavy exploitation and poaching, the survival of these important species was in danger.
Recognizing the threat, the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) Program, supported by the Government of Nepal and WWF Nepal, initiated a project to improve this wetland habitat and protect aquatic biodiversity by involving local people in conservation.
The marsh mugger crocodile (crocodiles palustris) are not among the most endearing species but they are an important part of wetland biodiversity. In order to improve their habitat around Ghodaghodi Lake, the TAL Program together with local communities built a suitable sand bank in early June for basking and nesting. Recently, a local monitoring team found a number of footprints at the site, proving that the sand bank is used by muggers frequently for basking and will probably be suitable also as a nesting site.
Working with the local communities has paid rich dividends in raising awareness on the importance and sustainable use of wetlands. For the first time, local youth formed a community-based anti-poaching operation (CBAPO) group to protect wetlands and its resources with support from the TAL Program. It is actively involved in preventing poaching and encroachment within and around Ghodaghodi. A turning point came during the World Wetlands Day 2005 celebrations when communities resolved to stop illegal activities and poaching at Ghodaghodi Lake and several local poachers voluntarily surrendered their weapons like spears and dugout canoes. The CBAPO has confiscated over 800 fish hooks, three boats, and nearly 200 gill nets, which has a tremendous positive impact on the biodiversity of the lake.
For more information:
Ms. Trishna Gurung, Communications & Marketing Manager, WWF Nepal tel: 977 1 4434820 email: firstname.lastname@example.org