Chitwan shines, but the railway threatens

By JW Dowey - 05 Feb 2014 7:31:0 GMT
Chitwan shines, but the railway threatens

The sloth bear has one hell of a life, with poaching and captivity a major problem in Asia. Here, in Chitwan, and in other reserves, species such as this need the space to breed and survive, because, otherwise, there is nowhere to go except for extinction; Sloth-bear image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The heart of the jungle is likely to be removed from Nepal. The expression of heart of the jungle belongs to the Chitwan, an area of unspoiled National Park forest stocked with rhino, (the one-horned Rhinoceros unicornis, tiger and sloth bear which William Laurance of James Cook University in Australia compares to the Serengeti.

The Indian government and the Nepalese are cooperating in bisecting the great forest with a railway. This transport link is important as the East West Line. However, there are other considerations here. While many Indian reserves have had similar fragmentations of habitat, the Nepalese situation has time to learn from that.

The Indian tiger populations are desperately separated in tiny remnants of their former territories as we previously mentioned in Indian tiger conservation . If we do the same to Nepal's animals, then perhaps we are failing to learn from experience. With little extra cost, the word is that the whole of Chitwan can be spared, with a ring-route. Who knows- it could even encourage tourism to have availability of wilderness species with easy transport? 100,000 already visit the 400 hotels and eco-lodges that appreciate the wonders of nature, instead of relegating them to lower-interest levels.

William Laurance's final take on the roads and rails planned as useful for the future of the region is that, "as a World Heritage site, Chitwan is a jewel of the planet. We urge Nepal to avoid high-¬risk mega-projects that could imperil Chitwan's amazing wildlife and natural values."

Dr Gopalasamy Reuben Clements is an Asian specialist on tiger poaching, and Boy! - do we need him! His attitude is that the first step to losing wildlife of any kind is the building of a road or transport network. New species come into the area and the natives are completely overpowered by human and other influences on their habitats. Poachers and colonists, both human and animal could be the first into Chitwan.

The Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers published this "alert" today in their ALERT news release.