Bardiya National Park proposes setting up open zooPark plans to install iron fencing around 25 hectares of forest to let tigers to roam freely.
Bardiya National Park, a major habitat of Royal Bengal tigers in Nepal, proposes a plan to launch an open zoo safari.
The park administration has recently submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Forest and Environment as well as the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation with a plan of keeping tigers, especially those brought under control for their troublesome activities and moved to the national park, in the open zoo safari.
“The establishment of an open zoo safari will conserve the rescued tigers and promote tourism in the national park. There will be no need to confine the troublesome tigers in a narrow enclosure,” said Bishnu Prasad Shrestha, chief conservation officer at the Bardiya National Park. According to him, the national park designed the proposal to let the tigers that are rescued or controlled for their injuries or troublesome activities roam in an open and natural place.
In its proposal, the national park says it plans to install an iron fencing around 25 hectares of land in the park forests to keep the controlled tigers. The park administration believes this new approach will help tiger conservation in the country.
The proposal asks for around Rs40 million budget to set up the open zoo safari, which would be the first of its kind in the country. The national park is hopeful that the ministry will accept its proposal and release the budget in the upcoming fiscal year of 2022-23.
The national park is all set to commence construction of the open zoo safari immediately after the ministry approves the budget. The park employees claim that the national park will generate revenue by selling tickets to the visitors at the open zoo safari.
The national park plans to build view towers with telescopes in the open zoo area and construct sky bridges linking such towers. The tourists, according to the park administration, can observe the tigers from the view towers and sky bridges.
Technicians have suggested establishing the open zoo in the forests that lie near the Karnali River, according to Shrestha.
The rescued or controlled tigers which roam around the forest have to be kept in the concrete enclosure due to the lack of open spaces in national parks.
Conservationists are upbeat about the concept of open zoo safari.
“The proposal of establishing the open zoo in 25 hectares of land with enough natural space for the tigers to roam is praiseworthy,” said Ramesh Kumar Thapa, the former chief conservation officer of the Bardiya National Park. “The open zoo should have bushes where the tigers can take rest and natural flowing water.” Thapa added the act of confining wild beasts like tigers in a concrete cage is very unscientific and inhumane.
Tigers from the Bardiya National Park have killed as many as 22 people in the past three years. The park administration controlled four tigers. One among them broke the cage and entered the Banke National Park forests while another was sent to the central zoo in Lalitpur. Two tigers are kept in closed enclosures in Rammapur and Thakurdwar areas of the national park.
Bardiya National Park and India’s Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve jointly won this year’s TX2 Award for doubling their tiger populations since 2010. TX2 is one of the most ambitious conservation goals ever set for a single species.
The Bardiya National Park, which covers an area of 968 sq km, earned accolades for posting an impressive growth in tiger population by almost five-fold—from less than 20 tigers in 2009 to 87 in 2018.