Nepal is one of the richest countries in forest, wildlife and bio-diversity. Although Nepal occupies just 0.01 percent of the landmass in the world, Nepal has 9.3 percent of birds, 4.5 percent mammals and 4 percent butterfly. Nepal’s efforts in conservation of bio-diversity are taken as a model around the world as most successful model. However, with growing human activities and the unlimited use of water, land and ecology and forest; one can see the deterioration in the balance of environment. This is going alarmingly higher. These activities are also affecting major storages of natural heritage, topography, biodiversity of protected areas as well. Due to human intervention and deteriorating environment , the habitat areas of our endangered wildlife have also been facing challenges constantly like loss of habitat areas, encroachment, wildlife poaching.
Preservation and protection of nature is one of the responsibilities given to Nepal Army by Constitution of Nepal 2015 and National Security Policy 2016. Giving priority to the responsibility of Nature Conservation, Nepal Army has been safeguarding protected areas, providing effective and efficient system and identifying complex problems, assessment and review of traditional security system internalizing modern, scientific and practical conservation, security strategy is fulfilling its national responsibility of protecting the national parks, reserves and buffer areas in a sustainable manner. To fulfill the responsibility for sustainable security management, Nepal Army has a main target to implement programs following participatory system in broader partnership with concerned government, non-governmental local organizations and local people to protect the national interest. For over four decades, Nepal Army has been involved in the nature conservation sector. Over 8000 professional troops of Nepal Army, trained in nature conservation, have been now protecting 14 protected areas.
Although nature conservation is a complex and difficult task, it is an indispensable work. Despite geographical remoteness, hostile and challenging weather, Nepal Army has been providing 24-hour security to the conservation areas, protecting their beauty. To fulfill the duty for the protection of national parks and protected areas, 113 officers and soldiers have already sacrificed their life. On the occasion of Nepal Army Day, those, who sacrificed their life for contributing for nature protection, deserve high respects.
Protection efforts are not possible from one institution or one model. Realizing that, wide partnership, cooperation, collaboration and coordination with concerned government, non-governmental organization and local level, Nepal Army has been encouraging joint participatory conservation work. Given the present level of increasing participation of local people, with local level in protection efforts, the future of natural conservation is bright.
Using the modern technology, there are some visible successes but it is not enough. The modern technology helps mainly in the areas of wildlife monitoring, guarding the entry points of protected areas and the evaluation of preservation activities. Currently, modern technologies like Real Time SMART Patrolling, CC TV, SMART Eye, and Poach Center are used in the protected areas. Nepal Army and concerned National Parks and Reserves have been monitoring activities in 24 hours through Joint Conservation Operation Center. Along with using modern technology and solving the security challenges through practical and joint efforts, we have been able to protect endangered species like rhinos and tigers with zero poaching, expansion of protected areas and significant increase in the numbers of wildlife is an inspiring message.
To increase efficiency and effectiveness of the personnel deployed in the Nature Conservation work, Natural Protection College is in operation. The College is in the process of establishing itself as a common institution providing training to Nepal Army personel and other concerned people working in conservation area. For the study of Nepal’s conservation system, process and efforts, Nature Conservation College will be center for research and excellence in times to come.
Although Nepal has made much progress in conservation areas, there remain some challenges. New, developed, conflict between human and wildlife, encroachment, rising cases of natural death of wildlife, natural disasters, lack of adequate resources and international networking of wildlife poachers are posing difficulty in implementing protection activities easily. Despite all these, Nepal Army is, in heart, word and work, committed to nature conservation and opening wider prosperity working in joint collaboration with all the concerned stake holders working nature conservation and hand over valuable things to the future generation.