Monitoring, counting of swamp deer begins in Shuklaphanta todayThe national park, with support of other organisations working in the conservation sector, is set to start the deer count from Sunday to mark the start of the national wildlife week.
Preparations are in full swing to count swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii), locally called bahrasingha, in Shuklaphanta National Park in Kanchanpur district.
The national park administration, with support of other organisations working in the conservation sector, is set to start the deer count from Sunday to mark the start of the national wildlife week.
“Preparations are underway to count and monitor the swamp deer population in Shuklaphanta. The work will be completed within the wildlife week,” said Nurendra Aryal, the assistant conservation officer at Shuklaphanta National Park. According to him, monitoring and counting of swamp deer have been held regularly in the national park for the past one decade during the wildlife week.
The national wildlife week is celebrated every first week of the Nepali new year. The day fell on April 14 this year.
“The swamp deer count is held from Baisakh 1 (the first day of the Nepali new year) every year. It was delayed this year as the day was not included in the park’s annual calendar,” said Aryal.
According to the park administration, the monitoring and counting of swamp deer are conducted using a head count method. The employees and technicians of the national park and National Trust for Nature Conservation along with the park’s elephants are mobilised for the week.
Established as a wildlife reserve in 1976 and declared as a national park in 2017, Shuklaphanta is located in the south-western corner of Nepal in Sudurpaschim Province. The country’s second youngest national park has vast grassland covering around 54 square kilometres of area, which is the main habitat of swamp deer.
Conservationists say that the largest herd of swamp deer in Asia can be seen in the grasslands of Shuklaphanta.
A total of 2,246 swamp deer were recorded in Shuklaphanta National Park during last year’s census. Conservationists are hopeful of an increase in swamp deer population this year.
This year, the count will also cover Lalpani and Andai Pataiya areas across the Chaudhar river. Previously, the count used to be carried out in the Shuklaphanta grassland area only.
“We have expanded the area for monitoring and counting as swamp deer were spotted in Lalpani and Andai Pataiya areas in recent months,” said Aryal. According to him, some 20-22 swamp deer were spotted across the Chaudhar area for the first time in the past few months.
Conservationists say that the habitat of swamp deer is expanding gradually.
“The habitat of swamp deer has expanded over the years. Sighting of some swamp deer across the Chaudhar river is proof of that. It is good to see swamp deer in Lalpani and Andai Pataiya areas,” said Laxmi Raj Joshi, Shuklaphanta conservation programme chief of the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
Around two dozen swamp deer were shifted to Bardiya and Chitwan national parks from Shuklaphanta five years ago. But the translocation programme hit a snag as the shifted deer species could not survive in the new habitat. According to the employees of Shuklaphanta National Park, all the swamp deer that were moved to Bardiya and Chitwan died in their new homes.