Wild animals inside the Banke National Park are frequently killed in road accidents as they have to cross the East-West Highway to reach the Rapti river due to the lack of adequate sources of water inside the park area.
The animals are struck by speeding vehicles when they cross the highway to get to the river for drinking. As a result, the number of wild animals killed in road fatalities on the highway section inside the park is increasing. The highway stretches 75 kilometers inside the park.
Seventy-two wild animals were killed in road accidents inside the park last year while 36 animals have been killed in similar circumstances so far this year, Park information officer Bishnu Prasad Thapaliya said.
According to him, the frequency of wild animal road accident fatality inside the park has increased over the last some 15 days with the onset of the dry summer season.
Animals like the wild boar, spotted deer, swamp deer and monkey often get killed in road accidents. One or the other animal is found killed in road accident daily.
Park officials say that the water sources inside the park area start to dry up during this time and the animals tend to move towards the downstream or the river for water. They are at high risk of accidents as they have to cross the highway to get to the river.
The statistics provided by the Park officials shows that most number of accidents take place on the highway section from Obhari to Agaiya of Rapti Sonari rural municipality.
However, the Park is not found taking action against the vehicles responsible for killing the wild animals. Park information officer Thapaliya said that there is problem arresting the drivers of such vehicles since they get the information about the death of wild animals due to accidents late. He said most accidents involving the wild animals occur at night.
Thapaliya said vehicles are checked only at two places of the park, which is not sufficient.
According to him, the Park is mulling implementing the ‘time card’ system for vehicles and increasing the number of check posts. It is also planning to install CCTV cameras at several paces along the highway in the park.
The Banke National Park was set up nine years back with the main objective of conserving the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
Wildlife conservation experts say that the tiger’s prey like the spotted deer, swamp deer and other herbivores are facing crisis due to the drying up of grass and vegetation for lack of adequate water sources.
The Park has the plan of constructing more water ponds inside the park to address this problem, assistant conservation officer Purushottam Sharma said. There are 26 artificial ponds inside the park at present which are not sufficient.
It is said 60 such ponds are being constructed this year with the collaboration of Park and the buffer zone communities.
According to Sharma, the national park is a dry area and there is water shortage in especially during February, March, April and May as most of the water sources dry up. “Moreover, the park lies in the Chure Bhawar area, a dry zone; hence the acute shortage of water for the wild animals,” he explained. The park is spread on an area of 550 square kilometers.