National

BNP wildlife hit as Geruwa river changes course

- KAMAL PANTHI, BARDIYA

Apr 9, 2018-

A sharp decline of water flow in the Geruwa river, an offshoot of the Karnali river a few kilometres downstream from Chisapani, has affected wildlife in the Bardiya National Park (BNP).

“The BNP forest along the Geruwa river banks is the habitat of various wildlife including tiger, rhino, elephant, spotted deer. The animals are struggling for water in the dry season as the river hardly has any water,” said Manoj Sah, chief Conservation Officer at the BNP.

The Geruwa river has gradually changed its course from the main stream of the Karnali over the past few years. As a consequence, the water flow has declined sharply as the floods deposited too much silt at Lalmatiya, blocking the river this year.

Conservationists say the gradual decline of water level in the Geruwa in the past few years has also affected the fresh water dolphin.

The Gangetic river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) were earlier found in the Geruwa river, Manaughat, Golaghat and Kothiyaghat areas, but not a single dolphin has been spotted in the Geruwa river for the past eight years, according to them. The BNP officials blamed the receding water level in the river as the main cause for the extinction of dolphin.

Following complaints of drinking water crisis due to the receding water level in the river, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation recently instructed the BNP to remove silt to restore the water level in the river.

Preparations are on to remove silt at Lalmatiya to increase the water flow in the Geruwa, the BNP administration said. The BNP has recently built seven ponds to supply drinking water to the parched wildlife. The park has been supplying water to the ponds by pumping underground water with the use of solar power.

“The Geruwa used to be have huge water flow even in the winter [dry season] until eight years ago. The water level has decreased significantly, affecting aquatic animals including dolphin and other species of fish,” said Dropati Sonaha, a local.

Published: 09-04-2018 08:59

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