Banke, March 2: At a time when the government has been marking the Visit Nepal Year 2020, the youngest national park, Banke National Park (BNP), is yet to see the number of tourists as expected earlier. The park was established a decade back in view of tigers’ habitat and biological route.
The government had enlisted the BNP in the 57th position among 100 touristy places in Nepal. The BNP is spread in 550 square km having some parts of Banke, Dang and Salyan districts. Home to biodiversity with flora and fauna, it is also a famous sanctuary for tiger conservation.
For the tourism promotion, necessary infrastructures and facilities have been readied- view tower to see wild animals, jeep safari, trekking route, elephant safari, etc. The elephant safari was launched two months back in a bid to attract tourists in the BNP. Inaugurating the VNY 2020, Chief Minister of State-5, Shankar Pokharel, had said the elephant safari would help bring in more foreign and domestic tourists. For attracting tourists, even the nine homestay facilities were begun in the villages in the vicinity of BNP- Balapur, Khadgabar, and Gabhar.
The tourists can enter the sanctuary from Obhari, Khadgabar, Buchchhapur, Gabhar, and Agaiya. From the viewpoint of biodiversity, eight ecosystems are found in the BNP, it is said. Home to 124 wild plants, 32 reptiles, birds of over 300 species, 48 species of fish, 32 species of mammals, 6 species of amphibians, it has also 11 species of endangered mammals. Similarly, 50 species of birds found here are internationally endangered ones. The last census of the tiger has recorded the wild cat at 21, Chief Conservation Officer at BNP, Pramod Bhattarai. He lamented why the tourists’ footfall was not as per expectation despite having such features.
As two highways pass through the BNP, the wild animals are killed by the passing vehicles. In the last five years, as many as 264 animals from the park were killed on road accidents. For the security of the BNP, Nepal Army has been mobilized since its establishment.
The army persons continue the cycle and motor patrolling round the clock. Kohalpur Buffer Zone Consumers’ Committee Chair Sabitra Pun said the people in the BNP vicinity are aware of how the park could be conserved and reap benefit from it. “Once the arrival of tourists increases, it helps us bring change in our income and lifestyle,” she, adding that adequate facilities were there for the tourists.