By Santosh Pokharel
In a bid to contain rising poaching and smuggling of herbs from the Annapurna circuit, Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has come up with an integrated strategy, which also includes mobilizing the local residents.
“If these illegal activities go unchecked, the conservation area would soon lose its reputation as the land rich in flora and fauna and other natural resources, and many rare species found here would be extinct in no time,” said ACAP official Ashok Subedi.
In the fiscal year 2010/11, many cases of poaching of barking deer and snow leopard and smuggling of rare orchids from the conservation area were reported to the police.
In the following year, six cases of animal smuggling were reported. Many cases of poaching and smuggling of priceless herbs have been already reported in the current fiscal year.
To check such illegal activities, ACAP, this time, has devised a comprehensive strategy, which also includes training and recruiting the locals to guard the conservation area against poachers and smugglers.
“Who would know the best about the nooks and corners of the conservation area than the locals?” said Subedi.
According to Subedi, they have already deployed 15 local residents at various parts of the conservation area.
“Their job includes apprehending those involved in smuggling and handing them over to the police administration or the conservation area management committee. They will conduct further investigations into the matter,” informed Subedi.
The management committee has also been conducting various social awareness campaigns against poaching and smuggling of natural resources. “In order to control these illegal activities, it is important that the locals understand the gravity of our concerns. And this has been our message to them in all our campaigns,” said Subedi.
ACAP covers 57 VDCs of Gandaki and Dhaulagiri zones.