Mandal has a post-graduate degree in Environment and Sustainable Development and returned to Nepal in 2012 after working for ten years in Delhi, and was shocked to see that the dense hardwood forests along the Chure foothills that he remembered from his childhood were all gone. With it, the wildlife had disappeared, there was water scarcity and other environmental problems.
Mandal set up the Mithila Wildlife Trust and adopted the Dhanushadham forest to prove that protecting nature can also uplift the socio-economic status of communities suffering exclusion due to caste, and empower them with self-sufficiency and dignity.
Mandal used his reputation as Nepal’s first snake rescuer to garner attention in the media, raise money through interaction programs for this plans to protect Dhanushadham not just to restore nature but to help communities traditionally neglected by society.
“When I returned from India, the forest was so thin I could see through the trees to the other side,” Mandal recalls. “There was encroachment from north and south, illegal logging, wildlife poaching, overgrazing.”
Mandal was able to convince local communities about the long-term benefits of conservation, and they excitedly rallied behind his Mithila Wildlife Trust, helping DPF become free from illegal felling and open grazing. The Trust set up a micro-finance scheme to support families who had till then relied on timber poaching.