Posted on 02 December 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical, emotional, and economic health of millions of people. In the past year, Nepal has had to deal with an exponential rise in COVID cases and face the risks of the pandemic derailing conservation achievements.
Despite the achievement of seven occasions of zero poaching of rhinos, illegal wildlife trade during the pandemic resulted in the loss of four rhinos to poaching in a single year, an indication of the fragility of our achievements and the need for sustained conservation action.
While this year has been challenging, it also had its moments of celebration and achievements, on both an institutional and personal leadership front. WWF Nepal was awarded the Nature Conservation Award 2077 by the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) recognizing the organization’s invaluable contribution to biodiversity conservation.
This year, WWF Nepal successfully closed the USAID funded Hariyo Ban Program after ten years of operation with many conservation milestones achieved for people and nature. Nepal is also on track to achieve the global goals of doubling Nepal's tiger numbers, and has recorded tigers at altitudes of ~2500 meters in western Nepal, and ~3200 meters in eastern Nepal. Meanwhile, rhino conservation has reached a historic record with 752 rhinos this year, a 16% increase since the last national rhino count in 2015. Likewise, Nepal also collared two additional snow leopards in Shey Phoksundo National Park, which will help strengthen climate smart conservation and management plans in the Western Himalayan Snow Leopard Landscape. WWF is also pleased to have provided immediate relief support to our key partners to deal with the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Most importantly, this year WWF Nepal prepared and rolled out its first landscape level Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework (ESSF) screening tool and mitigation plan with strong support from WWF Nepal’s headquarter in 2015 and the network. These achievements have been made possible by a committed government, supported by dedicated communities, and determined conservation actors. As we continue our conservation journey, we are committed to establish Nepal as a living example of center of excellence.