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In co-existence with the nature


Let’s save the environment and
save Mother Earth!

Study of Mikania in Chitwan National Park

By SEF Team (2007)


Copyright (C) 2008.
Save The Environment Foundation
All rights reserved.
E-mail: chandarana@mos.com.np
Website: www.save-the-environment.org





Forest Killers On The Spread


The Chitwan National Park (CNP) has been home to more than 700 species of wildlife and two-thirds of Nepal’s globally threatened species, including the endangered one-horned rhino.

But a non-native creeper called Mikinia Micrantha that locals have aptly named as Banmara or forest killer, has been out destroying the jungles of the sanctuary, posing a serious threat to its exceptional wildlife. 

Placed at number two in the world’s most notorious weed list, the wild creeper is also known as Mile-a-Minute for its ferocious growth rate of an inch a day. 

Besides, a single plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds annually which further aids in its exponential growth.

Chanda Rana, founder of Save the Environment Foundation (SEF), who also made the documentary “Mile a Minute: A Serious Threat to CNP” says that the weed has already covered more than 20 percent of the park and affected one third of the prime rhino habitat in the sanctuary.

“Not only has it affected the swamp areas where most rhinos live, it has also deprived them of their food source which will have a negative impact on their population,” says Rana.

She explains that the creepers grow over the grasslands or host plants, including small bushes to big trees and form a canopy, depriving the host plants of sunlight and slowly killing them.

The locals interviewed in her documentary say that banmara is not a preferred food source for herbivores and their cattle refuse to eat it. 

Though there have been sightings of rhinos consuming the weed, conservationists says it is nutritionally deficient for proper growth of rhinos that require a large intake of nutrient-rich vegetation.

“As the vine isn’t a native plant, it’s natural that the animals here don’t prefer it,” says Dr Narendra Man Babu Pradhan, conservation biologist at WWF, Nepal. “For rhinos, who feed on tall grasses in the riverine forests, the vine is definitely not a staple food and it’s actually suppressing growth of such native plants. However, we’re yet to have a clear report on the effects of mikinia on rhinos.”

Native of South America, mikania was first collected in Nepal in 1963 from Ilam, according to the IUCN report, “Mikania Micrantha Weed Invasion in Nepal.” The report states that Mikania was first used in India as a ground cover crop in oil and tea plantations.

Rana reasons that the weed was introduced to Nepal through either migratory birds but more probably through floods, as the infestation is seen more severe in riverine areas. Mikania infestation in CNP was also noted after the massive flood in 1990.

The weed invasion has once again put the rhino population in jeopardy at a time when their numbers have actually picked up from 372 in 2005 to 534 in 2011 as a result of encroachment and poaching controls.

Moreover, she stresses that the impact of the foreign infestation will affect not just the rhinos but the entire eco-system of the reserve if measures are not taken to control the infestation.

The infestation control, however, isn’t an easy task.

“We could uproot these plants but the chances of seed dispersal are very high which could further escalate the problem. Trying to completely destroy the plants using pesticide would also not be feasible in the forest as it can harm surrounding vegetation and wildlife too,” says Dr Dharma Raj Dangol of Institute of Agriculture & Animal Sciences in Rampur, Chitwan.

Besides, Pradhan mentions, “WWF has been studying its effect under the rhino habitat management program. However, the creeper has already overtaken more than 200 sq. km of CNP and manual uprooting of that entire vine isn’t a joke. It also proves too costly.”

He adds there are researches going on in India that hint that a certain Puccinia rust fungus can control its growth but it’s yet to be tested to see it’s actually a feasible method for the reserve and its ecosystem.

On the other hand, Naresh Subedi, Research Officer at Natural Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), says that the need now is to focus more on tests and experimentation of control methods rather than jumping into hasty decisions.

“We’re working in collaboration with researchers in Assam, India, where the Puccinia fungus has been released to control Mikinia. Furthermore, this is not just a problem seen here but in some 25 countries. We need to analyze the reports and check if the method can be feasible here,” he says.

What has to be done immediately, though, according to Subedi is to have an awareness campaign so that mikinia which has now also been spotted in Dang does not spread into western wildlife reserves such as Suklaphanta and Bardia.

“If there are such sighting and people are aware of it, it’s a lot easier to control it during the earlier phases,” he says.

Source: My Republica




Kathmandu, 19 Sept.: A central panel has been formed to help local administration to return seized assets during the insurgency The team consists of Communication Minister Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta, Finance Minister Barshaman Pun and Energy Minister Post Bahadur Bogati.
The opposition is demanding assests seized by Maoists to conclude the peace process.


Kathmandu, 19 Sept : 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,The Rising Nepal reports . 
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.

Source: ranabhola.blogspot.com







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Last Updated On: 19 Swptember, 2011

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