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Vol. 35: No.

1 Jan-Mar 2008

| Review of threats to Ramsar sites and associated biodiversity of Nepal |


A REVIEW OF THREATS TO RAMSAR SITES AND
ASSOCIATED BIODIVERSITY OF NEPAL (Part II)

by Gandhiv Kafle, Mohan K. Balla and Bimal K. Paudyal

Editor’s note: We regret that due to technical problems, some of the text from “A review of threats to
Ramsar sites and associated biodiversity of Nepal” was missing from the article when it appeared in
Tigerpaper Vol.34:No.4, and is now presented here.

Threats to Beeshazar and Associated Lakes course by monsoon rains and some fish may
naturally return with the incoming river water
(Baral and Inskipp, 2005).
T he surrounding forest area of the lake is
populated by nearly 100,000 people who
practice farming and fish in the lake, which is Threats to Koshi Tappu
managed through a fishing contract, awarded once
a year (Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2004). The Located in a densely populated area, the site is
lake area is quite vulnerable to human intervention subject to livestock grazing and attempts by local
due to easy accessibility, contiguity and proximity people to re-establish themselves in the reserve.
to the dense settlement and highway. The natural Land use in surrounding areas includes subsistence
threats to the lake ecosystem include natural fishing and rice cultivation (Ramsar Convention
eutrophication and siltation that leads to vegetation Secretariat, 2004). Koshi Tappu is threatened by
succession. The anthropogenic disturbances the large population of subsistence farmers and
include eutrophication, pollution, fishing, irrigation, fishermen living in close proximity to the reserve.
recreation, uncontrolled use of local fauna, over- The major threats to the Koshi Tappu wetland
grazing, timber felling and illegal hunting (IUCN, includes illegal grazing by domestic animals, fodder
1998b). The lake is connected with Khageri canal collection, hunting, illegal fishing, disturbance of
and with the rains a lot of mud and other dead nesting and feeding areas and poisoning. Significant
vegetation flows down and is deposited in the lake, populations of feral cattle and buffalo add to the
which causes siltation and heavy infestation of problem of illegal grazing (Baral and Inskipp, 2005,
invasive species like Water hyacinth (Eichhornia Petersson, 1998, Giri, 2002).
crassipes) in the lake (Pradhan, 2005).
At Koshi Tappu, 90% of the households within
Threats to Jagadishpur Reservoir the vicinity of the Reserve collect firewood, of
which 26.3% comes from forest and 16.4% from
The current use of the reservoir by the local driftwood collected within the Reserve, and 16%
population includes fishing, grazing, fuelwood and of the households collect fodder from within the
fodder collection, domestic use and supply of water Reserve. Overgrazing and the movement of
for irrigation of the surrounding cultivated land livestock along the shoreline contribute to soil
(Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2004). The erosion and high input of nitrogenous nutrients to
reservoir has a fluctuating water level according the wetlands, resulting in elevated eutrophication
to the demand for the irrigation of cultivated land. of water and excessive growth of certain aquatic
Threats to the site include hunting, disturbance, vegetation, which again leads to loss of suitable
deposition of aquatic macrophytes, water pollution habitat for birds and other aquatic life (IUCN
from agricultural chemicals and aquatic invasion. Nepal, 2004a).
In 2004, the entire reservoir was drained by the
local people in order to catch fish, although the The Koshi Barrage area is unprotected, affected
former water level is likely to be restored in due by hunting, over-fishing, disturbance and drainage.
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Vol. 35: No. 1 Jan-Mar 2008

| Review of threats to Ramsar sites and associated biodiversity of Nepal |


Two invasive alien plant species – Water hyacinth affected by eutrophication, erosion and
(Eichhornia crassipes) and Mikania micrantha sedimentation, overuse of resources,
– are both widespread at Koshi and are causing encroachment, agricultural expansion, population
major problems (Baral and Inskipp, 2005). pressure, agricultural runoff, pollution, fishing,
over-grazing, drainage and irrigation and aquatic
The Koshi Barrage, built to retain water and protect invasion. The loss and degradation of wetlands
the vast river plains of Bihar, India from flooding, and their associated biodiversity will continue until
has proved markedly attractive to water bodies, integrated participatory programs that benefit the
but has had significantly adverse effects on riparian local community as well as maintain the integrity
vegetation and animal communities, particularly of wetland ecosystem are implemented.
populations of mammals. Even the relict population
of Asian wild buffalo is severely affected and References
spends a substantial amount of time on agriculture
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cultivated land is prevalent in the area. Epizootic International, Kathmandu and Cambridge.
Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) has been reported in Bhandari, B. 1998a. An Inventory of Nepali’s
the Koshi Tappu area since 1983, where it has Wetlands. Final Report, IUCN Nepal,
caused high mortality of native fish resources. EUS Wetlands and Heritage Unit, Kathmandu,
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IUCN Nepal. 200b4. Conservation and Sah, J. P. and J. T. Heinen. 2001. Wetland

| Review of threats to Ramsar sites and associated biodiversity of Nepal |


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