Campaign to save rhinos from notorious creeper
By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Sept 18, A woman environmentalist, whose award winning documentary drew national and international attention into the invasion of a notorious weed in Chitwan National Park, is launching a programme shortly to save the threatened rhino habitat.
Infestation of fast growing alien vine Mikania Micrantha has affected 75 per cent of one-horned rhinos in the national park by destroying their habitat and food.
Chanda Rana, chairperson of the Save the Environment Foundation (SEF), said that she plans to initiate ground level action to control the creeper that grows six inches every day. She is launching the new phase of her project against the invasive weed to celebrate the World Rhino Day which falls on September 22.
Under the programme, Rana is organising a national workshop in Chitwan National Park gathering all the stakeholders. Participants brainstorming on the Mikania problem will include VDC officials, community forest user groups, bio-diversity conservationists, buffer zone representatives, national park officials and media persons.
Nepal army officials, representatives from Sauraha based hotels and nature guides, officials from the environment and forest ministries and their departments and conservation agencies including National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal Agriculture Research Council, IUCN and WWF will also participate in the three-day discussions.
The plan is to constitute a "Chitwan Mikania Control Taskforce" through the outcome of the workshop with the aim of controlling the spread of the wild vine.
The taskforce will be entrusted with reviewing the infestation, formulate local level education programmes, documenting the information on the scale of invasion, identify its impact on the local ecosystem and wildlife habitat.
"In the initial awareness part, I fought a lone battle against this serious problem. The documentary I made about the invasion has drawn the attention of the concerned people now. The new programme aims to build coordination for ground action," said Rana on Sunday.
Rana’s 35-minute documentary ‘Mile A Minute- A Serious Threat to Chitwan National Park’ won her the Environment Conservation Award for Women 2010 of the government.
The problem is so huge, it cannot be tackled through isolated efforts, said Rana. Without coordination of all the concerned agencies, we will reach nowhere, she said.
She plans to launch a pilot project with the involvement of the local communities to see what kind of control measure will be most effective to control the spread of Mikania vine. An area of the national park most severely affected by the weed will be selected for the purpose.
The pilot project will test the effectiveness of manual removal method
for a few years. If it turns out to be successful, it will be applied in other areas as well, Rana said.