KATHMANDU:  Vehicular movement along the Eastwest Highway has been obstructing movement of tigers from adjoining forests and buffer zones of the Chitwan National Park (CNP), a study has shown.

The ongoing study, which was launched last August, suggests that tigers have been roaming around the highway, but they are not crossing over to the other side of the highway due to heavy vehicular movement.

According to Baburam Lamichhane, research officer with the Sauraha chapter of National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the vehicular movement along the highway has obstructed dispersal of tigers in the area.

“Through this study, we  are trying to find out the impact of the vehicles plying along the highway on wildcats especially tigers and leopards. So far, the study has clearly shown that these animals have been affected due to highway that passes through their habitat,” said Lamichhane. The research, which is being conducted using the camera-trapping methodology to study wild animals, has found the presence of tigers in the area.

“We could clearly see that tigers have been wandering on the southern side of the highway, meaning tigers have been residing there. But they haven’t crossed the busy highway because of the vehicular movement,” said Lamichhane.

All seven cameras installed on the southern side of the highway have captured tigers, while only one camera on the northern side has captured two male tigers, according to researchers.

A total of 30 cameras have been installed on either side of the Bharatpur-Ratanagar section of the highway that traverses through adjoining buffer zone and forest area of the CNP.

“Such trend indicates that tigers are willing to cross the road. But sensing threat to their life, they aren’t doing so. Had there not been the highway they would have crossed over to the other side,” observed Lamichhane. “Only male tigers are found to have been crossing the road to reach the northern side, while female tigers—which are relatively shy, fearful—are not doing so.”

The ongoing research in the Barandabhar Forest Corridor, where the wild animals are frequently sighted, will continue for a year. The research has been jointly conducted by NTNC, CNP, District Forest Office Chitwan, Community Forests User Groups and Buffer Zone Committees.

–  THE KATHMANDU POST

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