Print Edition - 2016-12-14  |  MONEY

Elephant safari okayed in four more buffer zones

- SHIVA PURI, CHITWAN

Dec 14, 2016- Elephant safari, the most popular jungle activity for tourists in Chitwan, is being conducted at another four buffer zones inside Chitwan National Park (CNP).

The buffer zones are community-managed forests where wildlife viewing activities are permitted. The national park has okayed elephant safaris at Batuli Pokhari, Dakshinkali, Nawajyoti and Bandevi community forests.
“We decided to give the go-ahead to promote tourism and conserve wildlife under public participation,” said Ram Chandra Kadel, chief conservation officer at the park. “This initiative will enlarge public participation in wildlife conservation and also increase jobs.” 
The new elephant safari zones were inaugurated by actor Rajesh Hamal on Tuesday. Hamal said that the additional safari zones had added another dimension to tourism development in the area. Dev Raj Sapkota, president of Barandabhar Community Forest, said that with the opening of the new buffer zones, visitors will be able to see at least a dozen lakes like Kingfisher, Mayur and Baaish Hazaar along the sightseeing route. 
Sapkota said that they had been planning to establish homestays for the development of these areas. The park has allowed safari operators to provide tours with eight elephants at the four community forests. 
Elephant safaris will be operated from 7 to 9 am and from 3 to 5 pm in the newly opened areas. The operators have planned to hire elephants from the park in the beginning.   
The tourist hotspot of Sauraha has not only seen aggressive development of hotels and resorts over the past few years, entrepreneurs are also investing heavily in elephant safaris. Elephants have become an integral part of the tour packages offered by the hotels and resorts here.
Situated in the lush tropical plains of southern Nepal, Chitwan attracts safari goers with its rich wildlife and thick jungles. There are more than 51 elephants owned by hoteliers and cooperatives in Sauraha. Nowadays, every new hotelier buys elephants as tour packages are incomplete with the animal which has became a major attraction for tourists.
According to the statistics of CNP, it received 38,604 visitors in the first four months (mid-July to mid-November) of the current fiscal year. Among the arrivals, 30,484 were foreign adventure seekers. During the same period last year, 18,138 foreign tourists had visited the park.
The tourism industry tried hard to bring back safari goers to Sauraha by launching discount schemes after arrivals nosedived in the wake of the April 25 earthquake last year. The battered industry received another blow when India imposed a trade embargo in September last year, the peak tourist season in Nepal. 
The jungle safari destination in the southern plains was not greatly affected by the tremor which devastated parts of Nepal, but potential visitors stopped coming following exaggerated reports of widespread destruction across the country, travel traders said. There are more than 150 tourist standard hotels and resorts at the safari destination. Among them, 30 hotels offer international class amenities.

Published: 14-12-2016 08:56

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