Friday, 16 October 2009 19:00
Wild weed threat to CNP and rhino habitat
A wild weed, Mikania Micrantha, is posing a serious threat to unique eco system and biodiversity of Chitwan National Park (CNP), which is included in the World Natural heritage site by UNESCO.
This was revealed during the launching, by Minister for forest and soil conservation Deepak Bohara, of a 30min documentary made by Chanda Rana, Executive chairperson of Save the Environment Foundation, entitled 'Mile-a-Minute: A Serious Threat to Chitwan National Park (CNP)' today. The documentary is first of its kind produced and shown to ministry of forest and concerned authorities.
The documentary highlights severity caused by Mikania risking the whole ecosystem of CNP, endangering the very survival of the entire floral and faunal community. Rana has tried to highlight the origin and nature of Mikania and source of infestation along with urgent need to make it aware to concerned authorities through her documentary.
Highlighting the contents of the documentary, Rana said she has strongly emphasized the 'potential threat to rhino habitat' by wild colonization of the notorious weed which she noticed during her visit there and shared the information with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and National Trust for Nature Conversation (NTNC). She said, "I have presented the survey carried out in 2008 by ZSL for rhino census along with Mikenia infestation in the documentary which clearly indicates about 50% of rhino range is already affected by Mikania. At primary rhino habitat (riverine forests and tall grasses), approximately 75% of the rhinos were found to be most affected."
Additionally, the notorious weed is gradually spreading out towards the buffer zone area.
The documentary includes interviews from various experts on the issue from NTNC, Nepal Army buffer zone chief, chief warden at Chitwan, resort owners and local people.
The documentary also highlights recommendations for elimination of the wild weed. Conducting detailed study of infestation, public awareness campaigns, interaction program among concerned stakeholders, developing educational materials on ecological damages and loss caused by the weed and developing long-term projects with viable control measures and ways for complete elimination of this climber vine are some of the recommendations.
Speaking after watching the documentary, Minister Bohara said his ministry's attention has been drawn towards the devastation caused by the weed, and that the government would initiate measures and work in partnership with SEF and other such organisations to tackle the menace.
In conclusion Rana said the documentary is going to be screened at London where the ZSL is organizing an event on 24th November 2009 to mark 'Nepal Nature Conservation Year 2009'. (click to view documentary)
Invasion of CNP by Mikania Micrantha
-Scientific name: Mikania Micrantha H. B. Kunth.
-Also known as American rope, bittervine, Chinese creeper, climbing hempweed, mikania vine, mile-a-minute, etc.
-Extremely fast growing, sprawling, perennial vine-world's most notorious invaders.
-Rapidly colonizes disturbed habitats, retards growth of crops/natural vegetation.
-Native of tropical south and central America. Found in Mauritus, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
Extent of spread and damage caused
-Expanding at a very alarming rate.
-Its present infestation is estimated to be over 20% of the entire national park.
-The invasion is showing severely damaging effects on young trees, shrubs, grasses in mostly mixed and riverine forests and grass lands.
-It smothers shrubs and small trees which are important source of food and bedding for most of wild animals in the park.
-Gradually spreading out towards buffer zone area. If unchecked, could threaten the livelihoods of the local people in buffer zone.
-Dispersed by wind, animals and by natural process.
-Risking the whole ecosystem of the CNP endangering the very survival of entire floral and faunal community.
Details of Chitwan National park
-Established in 1973.
-CNP is the first national park of Nepal.
-Established to preserve a unique ecosystem of worldwide significance.
-Area 932 sq. km, at 175 kms south west of Kathmandu.
-In 1984 UNESCO included CNP on the list of World Heritage Site.
-An area of 750 square kilometers surrounding the national park was declared buffer zone in 1996 which consists of forests and private lands including cultivated lands as well.
-Situated at the altitude of 200 ft. 70% of park vegetation is predominantly Sal (Shorea robusta) forest.
-The remaining vegetation types include grassland (20%), riverine forest (7%) and Sal with Chirpine (Pinus roxburghii) (3%), the latter occurring at the top of the Churia range.
-The riverine forests mainly consist of khair (Acacia catetsu), sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo) and simal (Bombax ceiba).
-The grasslands form a diverse and complex community with over 50 species.
-There are more than 50 species of mammals found in the park.
-The park is renowned for the protection of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tiger, gharial crocodile along with many other common species of wild animals such as leopards, deer, sloth bears, elephants.
-Some of the other animals found in the park are samber, chital, hog deer, barking deer, ratel, palm civet, wild dog, langur, rhesus monkey, etc.
-This park is home for over 525 species of birds. The common species are peafowl, red jungle fowl, and different species of egrets, herons, kingfishers, flycatchers and woodpeckers.
-Birds like Bengal florican, giant hornbill, lesser florican, black stork and white stork are regarded as endangered bird species.
-Similarly, more than 55 species of amphibians and reptiles occur in the park.
-The park consists of diversified ecosystems-including Churia hills, ox-bow lakes, flood plains of Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers.
- The flood plains of Chitwan are rich in alluvial soil.
- The park boundaries have been marked out by the Narayani and Rapti rivers in the north and west, and the Reu river and Someshwor hills in the south and south-west.
Rana has made the appeal ''To act immediately to save the CNP from invasion of wild weed Mikania to preserve one of the world's unique eco system and natural heritage site". She also wants this issue to be heard by the world's top conservationists at the upcoming' 24th Oct International Day of Climate Action 350 Event to the December 2009 Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.
Save the Environment Foundation (SEF) is an NGO run by women, and has been engaged in environment conservation initiatives launched in different parts of Nepal with the theme ''From Confrontation to Co-existence with Nature for Future Generation''. nepalnews.com