- Issue: Summer 2020
Many animals travel vast distances in search of food, water, shelter, and the chance to mate. But the wild spaces they inhabit are often interrupted by fences, roads, and human activity. That is why wildlife corridors—connecting pathways that allow animals to move more safely from one wild space to another—are so important.
The Khata Corridor links Nepal’s Bardia National Park with India’s Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. Two decades ago, this was desolate land used for grazing cows. Now, thanks to close collaboration between WWF, local communities, and the government, this 15-square-mile corridor is a forest full of trees, shrubs, and grassland—a perfect thruway for dispersing animals such as tigers, rhinos, and elephants.
Roads that transect wildlife corridors can pose significant threats to wildlife. The Postal Highway passes through prime wildlife areas in the Khata Corridor, and there are plans in the works to upgrade Mahendra Highway, which cuts through the core area and buffer zone of Bardia National Park, from two to four lanes. In addition to these national highways, several district roads connect communities in this area.
To make this necessary infrastructure more wildlife-friendly, WWF-Nepal has been exploring ways to reduce vehicle collision-related wildlife deaths and injuries, in collaboration with the Department of Roads, multilateral banks and development agencies, engineers, government officials, academics, and other conservation stakeholders. For instance, using data from rhino radio collars and camera trap monitoring, WWF has identified wildlife crossing zones (areas that should include an overpass or underpass for animals) across the Postal Highway. In Bardia, additional measures—lowered speed limits of around 25 miles per hour, reflective signs and road markings—also help prevent roadkill. Despite these initiatives, the pace of development continues to pose challenges to wildlife movement, and the need to implement new solutions remains.
Wild animals can destroy crops, putting farmers’ food security and income at risk. By providing seeds and irrigation equipment, WWF-Nepal has encouraged Khata communities to try chamomile farming, a win-win solution: Chamomile is a valued cash crop that animals find unpalatable.
In the village of Dalla, 22 families have opened their homes to tourists. These homestays allow villagers to earn an income while letting tourists experience local culture and nature up-close.
Marmelos trees used to be a source of firewood for the local community. Then, WWF’s Nepal team gave the local community seed money to create a marmelos juice factory. Today, thousands of bottles of this delicious drink made from the quince-like fruit are sold in Nepal, boosting the local economy and providing an incentive to keep the trees alive.
In the Khata Corridor, 638 households have installed predator-proof enclosures to protect their livestock.
PEOPLE AND FORESTS
Community Forest User Groups are legal autonomous groups with the right to plant, manage, protect, and use community forests. Income generated through community forests supports both conservation and community development, and the model has proved to be sustainable in Nepal.
When humans and wildlife come into conflict, Rapid Response Teams in the Khata Corridor quickly arrive to document the damage—whether to people’s crops, property, or health. They provide immediate support where possible, and help victims apply for compensation from the government. Established by WWF-Nepal in 2016, nearly 60 such teams help communities and engage them in wildlife protection efforts across Nepal.