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Nepal’s first bird sanctuary offers hope

Words by Smiley Team

With their extraordinary orange beaks and propensity to distribute seeds, great hornbills are an important member of South Asian forest ecosystems. For the last few decades, their numbers have steadily declined. But now Nepal’s first-ever bird sanctuary offers them, as well as other bird species, a new haven in the Himalayan foothills.

On the former site of 2,563-hectare wetland has been declared a sanctuary by the provincial and the Ghodaghodi municipal governments. Its serene waters and abundant forests fringed by mountains will offer peace and security to native and migratory birds. These include about a dozen which are in global decline.

Acting as a wildlife corridor between the hills and the plains below, it hosts other endangered species including the Bengal tiger, the aerides odorata orchid and the red-crowned roofed turtle. 

The lotus flower commonly seen in Indian religious art has been spotted on the site, as well as a type of wild rice that is increasingly difficult to find.

[Read other positive news stories about individuals and organisations protecting life on land]

PhD candidate in conservation Anand Chaudhary has a strong connection to the area. In a tweet he wrote: “This wetland complex holds a special place in my heart, as I spent the formative years of my conservation career there.

“Wonderful achievement in declaring Nepal's first Bird Sanctuary. Congratulations to the entire team.”

“The launch of the first bird sanctuary in the country sends a message that local governments are equally committed to conserving biodiversity,” ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral informed Mongabay.

But there is an understanding amongst local conservationists that more must be done to successfully protect the wildlife living there. While the declaration may help accelerate efforts to protect Nepal’s biodiversity, the wetlands still face threats such as illegal tree felling, poaching and hunting.

“Let’s hope the new initiative will help deal with the threats and conserve the crucial site,” Hem added.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To help conservationists continue to protect and restore Nepal’s wildlife and nature, donate to Wildlife Conservation Nepal.

SUPPORT: Give your time to protect wildlife in Nepal. Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation Nepal.


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