Wildlife rescue in Palpa unsafe due to ill-equipped forest officesForest officials and security personnel lack tranquiliser guns and various other equipment required for a safe and immediate rescue of wildlife.
An adult leopard fell into a snare that some villagers had set up to trap porcupines at Bhuwanpokhari in Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality, Palpa in November last year.
After spotting the leopard entangled in barbed wires, the villagers immediately informed the Division Forest Office. The forest officials reached the site but they did not have a tranquiliser gun to dart the leopard and rescue it. The ill-equipped team of forest officials and security personnel rescued the leopard four hours later with the help of an excavator. By then, the leopard had sustained serious injuries and had to be taken to Chitwan for treatment the next day. He died a couple of days later.
“The leopard could have survived if we had been able to tranquilise it and remove him from the trap on time. But the rescue operation took too long. The forest office does not have the necessary tools and technologies required for wildlife rescue,” said Mohan Paudel, chief at the Division Forest Office in Palpa. “As a result, most of the animals die while being rescued or shortly after their rescue.”
Bhuwanpokhari’s incident of leopard rescue is just a case in point. The rescue of wildlife is a difficult task for the forest officials and security personnel due to a lack of tranquiliser guns and various other equipment required for a safe and immediate rescue work.
According to the data available at the forest office, around 50 leopards were rescued in Palpa district in the past year.
“More than 40 of them died while being rescued or due to delay in rescue,” said Yamlal Pokharel, the information officer at the Division Forest Office. According to him, the rescue work of other animals, including snakes, bears, wild boars, porcupines and barking deer, among others, are equally difficult.
Pokharel also underscored the need for a wildlife rescue and treatment centre for the effective rehabilitation of wildlife.
“We have difficulties in rescuing wild animals, as we do not have the necessary infrastructures and facilities where we can rehabilitate the rescued animals,” said Pokharel.
The local residents of Bhuwanpokhari say wild animals have begun entering human settlements in search of food and water of late. The forest consumers’ groups and the villagers use sticks and other tools to chase the wild animals away.
“We chase away the straying wild animals by ourselves and inform the forest office if an animal is found injured or trapped. But the forest officials cannot always rescue the trapped wildlife to safety, as they do not have tranquiliser guns and other tools required,” said Jhabindra Neupane, a consumer of a local community forest in Ribdikot Rural Municipality-1.
Paudel admits that wildlife rescue in Palpa is ineffective and unsuccessful due to a lack of modern technologies and equipment in the district forest offices.
“We have to rescue wild animals by using traditional tools and technologies. So many wild animals die because of that,” said Paudel, adding that the forest office has informed the higher authorities about the need for tranquiliser guns and other tools. “But they are yet to address our issue.”
The conservation of various wild animals has been challenging across the country, mainly due to poaching and smuggling. The unsafe rescue of wildlife further worsens the wildlife conservation efforts, conservationists say.
“Various wild animals, including leopards and bears, are tortured and even killed during rescue operations. The necessary tools and equipment are required for their safe rescue,” said Dil Bahadur Khangaha, another consumer of a local community forest in the district. He urged the concerned authorities to manage the tools and set up a rescue and treatment facility for the rescued wildlife’s rehabilitation in the district.