Salyan villagers keep watch to protect cropsWild animals from Banke National Park enter human settlements and destroy crops, local farmers say.
Nandakali Rana, a 35-year-old woman from Kaprechaur in Kalimati Rural Municipality-7, has been spending her nights in her field for the past month. She has built herself a temporary pavilion in the middle of her field to prevent wild animals from entering her fields and destroying crops.
“The crops are ready to harvest and need to be protected from wild animals,” said Rana. “I have not spent a single night at home with my family in the past month.”
Rana’s neighbour Ratna Kumari Roka has also built a pavilion in her field for the same purpose. “It’s difficult to be vigilant, especially when you are tired from the heat during the day,” she said. “But I can’t leave my field unattended anymore. The animals destroy everything if left alone.”
The women have kept zinc sheets at the pavilion so that when they see an animal entering the fields, they beat the sheets to make noise and drive the animal away.
Farmers and the residents of Kaprechaur, which abuts Banke National Park, face threats from wild animals from the park. Wild animals such as boar, monkeys and porcupines have terrorised the local farmers.
According to Bhimsara Budha, a 30-year-old local man, wildlife menace has affected almost 500 families in Ryang, Aambas, Swaymbas, Kusumtara, Haukhola, Batule, Ghuiyabari and Kaprechaur settlements.
“I put my life at risk to guard my crops. The number of tigers and bears is also increasing in the national park. These animals enter the village and prey on our cattle. Even our crops are not safe from them,” said Budha.
Tek Bahadur BK, another local farmer, said they have no choice but to keep watch at night to protect their crops from wild animals. The settlements near the national park are mostly farming communities and rely heavily on the yield of their crops.
“It is becoming very difficult to save our crops. But we can’t let the animals destroy them or else we will have nothing to eat and no income,” he said.
According to Dambar Pun, chairman of the Buffer zone forest conservation committee, the neighbouring settlements have for long been suffering due to attacks from the park animals.
“The park has protected the forests and wildlife but not much has been done to protect those living in the immediate surroundings,” said Pun.
The authorities too have not been able to take measures to stop wild animals from entering human settlements and fields for a lack of budget, says Nan Singh Rana, ward chairman of Kalimati Rural Municipality-7.
“The locals have demanded the installation of a tarpaulin barricade surrounding the fields to keep wild animals out but we don’t have that kind of budget to accommodate their demands,” said Rana. “The park should actively formulate plans to help the locals. But they are doing nothing. They tell the locals to plant crops that wild animals don’t eat but farmers have to plant conventional crops if they are to survive.”