Wildlife In Crisis

Bhimsen Thapaliya

It is not only the human communities that have been badly affected by the recent monsoon floods and inundation. The added dimension of devastation has touched the realm of wildlife. During and in the aftermath of the monsoon calamities, wild animals have faced foraging and survival challenges. As reported by the media, charismatic one-horned rhinos were not only swept away by raging floods but one of them was found dying after being stuck in deep mud created by the flooding. People in the vicinity of Chitwan National Park found an animal in mired condition but it was too late to rescue it.
It may not be only the case of big animals like rhinos. Smaller ones may have faced the same fate and many of them might have perished without being unnoticed. The floods have affected forests, marshes, grasslands, water sources and grazing ground. As food and habitats have been affected, dependent wild animals will face problems. When food source in the wild becomes scarce and absent, wild animals turn to the human settlements and farmlands for survival. According to news reports, Chitwan National Park witnessed widespread devastation in wildlife settlement and as a result, wild animals are coming to human settlements.
Herbivores and omnivores such as rhinos, elephants, axis deer (cheetal), wild boars and bears are found to have entered human settlements and farmlands in Chitwan in search of food in the aftermath of the monsoon flooding. National park officials have said that large grassland areas have been swamped by mud and sand. This naturally creates food shortage to the grass eating animals. Wild animals that feed on grass eating animals will also face a state of famine due to decline of their prey animals. Twelve per cent of the territory of Chitwan National Park is covered by grassland which is the chief food source of rhinos, swamp deer, barking deer, axis deer and wild elephants.
The park officials estimate that around 1,200 wild animals including rhinos, wild boars and different deer species were killed in the recent monsoon disaster that lashed the southern plains of the country. When wild animals roam villages and farmlands, it may be too risky for the local people to go about their business. Fatal wildlife attacks are common among the people in Chitwan living in the vicinity of the national park. This problem is going to exacerbate in the aftermath of the monsoon calamity. This has emerged as a matter of concern for conservation officials.
Some people may dismiss the effect of monsoon floods on wild animals as unimportant. They may argue that devastation caused in the human settlements should be on focus and it is not necessary to dwell on the issue of wild animals. But what happens is that effects on wildlife habitats is going to affect the lives of the people directly or indirectly. Chitwan is a burning example where hungry animals are coming to villages and farms to damage crops, kill the livestock as well as terrify the people. The already prevalent human-wildlife conflict situation is only going to be worse.  

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