As a Wild Ass, I can vouch for the fact that Nepal is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. And the incredible thing is that this wealth of flora and fauna is now living cheek-to-jowl with the country’s human population without eating each other up.
Humans with herd mentality are leaving en masse along crossborder migration corridors, whereas wildlife species conduct themselves responsibly to defecate only in designated spots.
In fact, as Nepal rises in the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, we can safely say that the country’s rankings in the Animal Development Index (ADI) has risen even faster. This means members of our erstwhile animal kingdom who are now protected citizens of the Federal Democratic Republic enjoy living standards and social welfare safeguards that would be enviable in any other country.
Proof of this was the news last week that a female endangered One-horned Rhinoceros heeded the call of the Ministry of Wild Life and Animal Husbandry to further improve the rate of institutional delivery in Nepal by giving birth to a healthy male calf in a maternity Ward in Bharatpur. This is a heart-warming example of how wildlife and humans have learnt to coexist in a country whose patron deity is the Lord of the Animals.
It will be harder to convince expecting Royal Bengal Tigresses to get themselves admitted into the hospital, but the Chief Warden of the Chitwan National Park is working on it.
On the other hand, villagers in the buffer zone are making frequent forays into the National Park to collect thatch and fodder, setting fire to the grasslands. The number of tourists on elephant back and jeeps entering the Park has shot up this winter.
As humans move into the Park and the wildlife moves out, we may as well declare Bharatpur a National Park and encourage tigers, rhinos and sloth bears to pay a fee to enter the city to watch humans in their natural habitat.
The country has also shown its commitment to nature conservation by allowing all kinds wild animules to enrich the biodiversity of the grasslands within the perimeter of Kathmandu Airport. Rhesus monkeys have a free run of the departure concourse, rodents find their way into planes, and the runway is regularly patrolled by leopards and wild boar. We are even allowing the smuggling mafia to induct trafficked chimps. This country is turning into a zoo in preparation for Visit Nepal Year 2020.