After realising a potential threat to the lineage of Arna (wild buffaloes) through cross breeding, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve has decided to shoot down stray buffaloes left in the park. The stray buffaloes belong to locals living in the buffer zones and some Indian nationals living across the border. “We were compelled to resort to such measure after all other attempts failed,” said Ganga Ram Singh, a conservation officer who had reached the south-eastern area of the reserve for inspection. “We will try to move them
into Kanji house but if the endeavour fails we have no option but to shoot them down,” he said.
Following the decision, 500 and 200 buffaloes were taken out of the reserve by their owners on Sunday and Monday respectively. Though the reserve has been serving notices each year, it has had little impact on people especially those from across the bordering towns of Supol, Arariya and Purnima in India.
According to Kusum Lal Yadav of Jagatpur-1 in Saptari, 90 percent of stray buffaloes in the reserve belong to Indian nationals. “The problem persisted due to the weakness of the concerned authorities,” Yadav said, adding that it would serve their interests if they removed the stray buffaloes. Likewise, Bechan Chaudhary of Tapeshwori-1 claimed that the herds that ramble out of the reserve were in fact not wild buffaloes. Apart from a few wild ones, the herds comprised mostly of stray buffaloes, he said. “We are fined if our buffaloes enter the reserve while those leaving their livestock there for years have not paid a penny till date,” Chaudhary complained. “It would be best to auction them off.” The reserve spread across 175 square kilometres was established in 1975 to conserve wild buffaloes. The wild buffaloes are much darker and have white hair in the knees, and as they are relatively stronger and cleverer than the average domestic buffaloes, their calves fetch a handsome sum. According to a recent count, the number of wild buffaloes in the reserve was 327, including 52 adult males and 98 females, while the number of stray buffaloes exceeded 10,000.
Singh had started a similar campaign a decade ago in which around 90 stray buffaloes were shot down in a day. His efforts was widely criticised then. Retiring in two months, Singh has once again initiated the campaign and requested the help of people living in the buffer zones.