The Terai Arc Landscape Project (TAL) - Wildlife Trade Control

Success in decreasing illegal hunting, fishing and logging

 / ©: Sanjib Chaudhary / WWF Nepal
Nepal Army staffs patrolling inside Chitwan National Park.
© Sanjib Chaudhary / WWF Nepal
Close cooperation with local communities bearing fruit

"During the year 2002-2003, there was a lot of poaching in Chitwan National Park", says Shiva Raj Bhatta, former Chief Warden of Chitwan National Park. "We developed a strategy with support of TAL to control poaching that reduced poaching by 75% the following year."

"We established a network of informants and mobilized local youth", Bhatta explains. "At the same time, park staff received better communication technology and equipment, to use while patrolling on elephants and by boats."

"We are now catching poachers that have killed animals 2 or 3 years ago. Very seldom can they be caught immediately", he says.

High demand in international markets
Most of the poachers in the area have now been caught and imprisoned, but the problem is still far from solved. "Poaching is international business, and a major reason for poaching is the market", Bhatta says. "There will be poaching as long as there will be demand for the products."

Villagers that saved a rhino's life

One of the biggest successes of the TAL project has been its ability to mobilize local people to take up active voluntary conservation work and change their attitude towards poaching. Dhan Rai, Deputy Director for WWF Nepal, recalls an incident:

"The Khata area is only a few kilometres from the Indian border", he says. "One day, there was a rhino on the Indian side of the border. Poachers were following the rhino, and Indian policemen were following the poachers. The rhino crossed the border and entered Nepal, and the poachers followed, but the Indian policemen were not allowed to cross the border. Instead, they alerted us that both the rhino and poachers were heading in our direction."

Word was spread in local communities at an emergency speed. An increasing crowd of local people started pouring in, by bicycle and on foot. Once the rhino appeared, the people gave way, to allow the rhino to continue its journey to nearby Bardia National Park, where it seemed to be heading. Once the rhino had gone, the crowd pulled together again, and when the poachers appeared, the people used their sheer number to stop the poachers.

Voluntary Anti-poaching groups achieve success

The Department of Forest, in the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of Government of Nepal, has achieved remarkable success in involving local volunteers in anti-poaching activities outside protected areas.

Community-Based Anti-Poaching Operations consist of local volunteers who frequently patrol conservation areas and are instrumental in raising awareness amongst local people. These groups have had a significant effect in bringing down poaching and illegal logging.

When patrolling, anti-poachers always move in a group. If they find someone who is illegally logging, fishing or grazing cattle, their number is the strength they rely on. They confiscate the illegally acquired resources and see if the offender has been caught before.

If this is his first time, the group educates him on why this is forbidden and lets him go, but if the same person has committed a similar offence before, he is arrested and brought to a committee that decides on the fine the culprit has to pay.

Park staff and volunteers, bravely facing the armed poachers

Inside conservation areas, there is also park staff doing anti-poaching work, employed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. WWF supports them financially and technically. These unarmed men face quite a risk, and call for the army staff to help arrest fully armed poachers.

Tame elephants are of great help to park staff and army for patrolling in conservation areas. An elephant is faster than a human, and it has a superb sense of hearing and smell. To catch a single armed poacher, several men and elephants are needed to successfully work together.