Forest fires engulf many of Nepal’s national parks

Forest fires engulf many of Nepal’s national parks

04 May 2012

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Nepal — A huge blow has been delivered to 225 Nepalese reserves following estimates that 40% of small mammals in one park perished in forest fires

Officials have announced that many protected parks in Nepal and northern India have been affected by forest fires, with at least one park suffering from huge wildlife losses. Although it has not been possible to asses the immediate damage because some fires are still raging, Bardiya National Park has reported to have lost 70% of its forest in the fire.

The scale of the disaster has been attributed to the remoteness of some fires, the highly flammable resin of the dominant conifer species combined with the lack of resources to deal with the fire.

“We do not have the capacity, resource and equipment to fight fires of this scale,” said Krishna Acharya, director-general of Nepal’s department of national parks and wildlife conservation. “How long can we fight the fire with just soil and brooms made up of plants?”

“That is why despite our efforts to contain it, the forest fire has continued in these different areas.”

Indian park director of Dudhuwa National Park Shailesh Prasad, on the other hand has reassured the public that they are prepared to deal with a fire: “We have a rapid action team that does the job quite efficiently. We have tankers and tractors on standby even in the nights; they are mobilised as and when required.”

Bardiya National Park, once hailed as a conservation success and a refuge for elephants, tigers and rhinos, has reported a 40% loss of its small mammals; 60% of its insects and a significant number of birds have also been affected. It is believed that many larger mammals will have been able to outrun the fire, although there are some concerns than many will have perished.

Not all reserves have been as severely affected as Bardiya. Other parks affected were Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve.

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