By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Government’s attitude towards our work is negligible and unexpected: KB Thapa, vice president of Sankarnagar Forest and Research Center and also retired DSP of Nepal Police, Bhairawa
A long queue in front of the ticket counter of Sankarnagar Research Center, Butwal is the testimony to the fact that why this center stands on top in the region. Domestic tourists throng in to see some unique and quite rare wild animals, which are not available in other parks of the country.
Take an example of ostrich. Ostrich is a rare bird in Nepal. This bird is most probably only available in this center. Two full grown ostriches walk majestically in their territory. These ostriches are highly territorial and do not want to share their territory with other animals.
“Sankarnagar Forest and Research Center is spread in 16 hectare land and it was established in 2003. In the beginning the government of Nepal had permitted this center to run as ‘Animal Rescue Center (ARC). However, today we do not only take care of wounded animals but rear them by keeping in the zoo.
Many of these animals are so vulnerable that even if we release them in the forest they may not be able to fend themselves. In a situation like this we cannot abandon them in the forest. We take care of them instead. Taking care of wild animals is not everybody’s cup of tea. It is extremely expensive and also risky to some extent” said Mr. KB Thapa, vice president of Sankarnagar Forest and Research Center and also a retired DSP from Nepal Police, Bhairawa.
There is a large collection of wild animals such as leopards, cranes, tortoise, pythons, boas, ostrich, Nil Gai, deer, black bear, Himalayan vulture, golden eagle, swans, jackals, and a few others. These animals have been let free in an open environment, which have been fenced by iron net for the safety of the visitors.
“For the visitors it is a lifetime experience to see such rare animals in one place, but for us it is very difficult to meet the requirements of these animals. Every month we need minimum Rs.1,80,000 to meet overall expenditure of the center including foods for the animals and salary for the staff. Until now we solely depend on the income from the counter.
Every day, in average 200 domestic tourists visit the park and watch the wild animals in zoo. We have separately developed a wide open area for the picnic, where several groups of people enjoy picnic without disturbing the other groups. Our picnic spots are so popular that even people from as far as Palpa, Baglung, Bardia, and Syangja regularly visit here for the picnic. We provide them all necessary facilities. This may be the reason why many people’s first choice for the picnic is our center” revealed KB Thapa.
There is a Lakhan Singh Memorial Park within the center that has been maintained well. Many tourists visit the park and relax there. This park has been managed by Lakhan Singh Memorial Park Committee, said Mathbar Salami Magar, the president of Lakhan Singh Memorial Park.
The government had actually permitted to run this zoo cum garden as an ‘Animal Rescue Center’, but provides no budget at all. “Officially we are known as Animal Rescue Center. As a result we are called whenever a wild animal is found injured. We arrange a vehicle and some people to bring the injured animal back to our zoo. Thereafter we need to call veterinary doctor and take their serves for a few days. If the animal is a tiger, bear or leopard then we need expert tranquilizers. Without tranquilize no treatment is possible.
A single shot of tranquilizer cost nearly Rs.15, 000 rupees. Just a week ago I paid about Rs. 60,000 for the treatment bill on a leopard, which was brought from Kaski. When the leopard was brought his condition was extremely critical, but we provided him timely medical assistance and now you can see he is completely healthy and walk on his four feet”.
Quite often District Development Committee (DDC) and Butwal sub-metropolitan city provide the center with little financial assistance. Otherwise the center gets no financial assistance at all. It sounds quite ridiculous that the government had permitted the center as an ‘Animal Rescue Center’ but provides no funds whatever to meet the expenditure on the maintenance of so many animals in the zoo.
The government says treat the wounded wild animals but what to do with them after the treatment. On this part government is mum. The income from the tickets is not enough to feed the hungry mouths of several wild animals, said KB Thapa.
Baburam Aryal is the president of the center. He was pioneer of establishing the center. Later he took KB Thapa with him then he just retired from Nepal Police, Bhairawa as a DSP. The duo joined hands together to run the center smoothly. Meanwhile, Mr. KB Thapa is the man behind all engineering and designing work of the Shankarnagar Forest and Research Center.
“While serving in the Nepal Police as a DSP I was stationed at the engineering department, where I would do engineering and designing work. It is therefore I singlehandedly did all engineering and designing work of the center” said KB Thapa.
The center wants to develop this park into a regional level zoo, but this is not possible without a regular financial assistance. Since Nepal government has never paid any attention, Baburam Aryal, president and KB Thapa, vice president of Sankarnagar Forest and Research Center expect some international donors to help their center.
In 2014 the center had received an appreciation letter and a purse of Rs.50,000 from WWF for doing commendable work in nature conservation activities. Without doubt this has boosted the working spirit of the center.
“We pin no hope on government for any financial support, but we expect some financial assistance from international organizations. We want to make a sincere appeal with them that first they come and see the work we have been doing only then we would like to accept their aide” said KB Thapa straight from his heart.
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