(Dr. Mukesh K. Chalise, a reputed biodiversity scientist of Nepal specially on mammals and primates has affiliated with Central Department of Zoology, Kirtipur, Tribhuvan University. Dr. Chalise has been in University of Washington, Seattle as Fulbright Fellow, George August University, Gottingen Germany as DAAD Fellow for academic and research. Hiscollaboration with Mizoram University, Kunming Institute of Zoology and Kyoto University has already produced four PhD and some are underway. DrChalisehas been honored for his skillful exploration in Nepal with several fellowships such as Martha J. Galante Conservation Fellow, Conservation Fellow, and Linnaean Society Fellow and received several research grants for the wildlife study in Nepal. Served more than three decades on the education system of Nepal, Dr. Chalise has travelled all five continents of world and invited by the renowned universities for biodiversity lectures, conferences, workshops and to serve as mentor of young scientists. Below is a short script of his conversation- editor).
Namaskar ! Would you spare sometime with us despite your busy schedule ? How busy are you,currently ?
Namaskar ! Well, always there is something to do. If you are interested on biodiversity, then there will be no time for other activities. You are within the biodiversity in Nepal, even some time, Saturdays are also not holidays. Despite golden opportunities of honor and status, I returned from abroad to work in my own country, so how could I take rest ! Wildlife in our nature has been less explored so always new and amazing circumstances are happening. No chances of leisure time, what a fun, loving to nature !
We know, you have studied and acquired info from all ecosystems and theirs’ biodiversity in Nepal. How you like to introduce the biodiversity of Nepal specially wildlife ? What are the significances of Nepal biodiversity globally ?
Yes, I have done study/research tour of Nepal from Mechi to Mahakali and from Tarai to Himalaya of respective zones. I donot think I missed any ecosystem, subtropical Tarai forest to alpine grassland and hot sandy flood plain to trans Himalayan cold desert and nival zone. Mid mountains are always curious to me as a juncture of north and south.
During the arduous field studies, I have been recording several new facts and evidences that have never thought for Nepal. There was no record of hyenas east of bagmati River, I recorded it with infants during 2000 in Lalgadh, Dhanusha area and wrote about it. People doubt on my findings, but I continue the study and after sixteen years, my assistant Sivishcaptured its photos in Bardibas, Mahottari area adjacent to my previous records. Biodiversity experts (?) say no Binturong species in Nepal, I recorded its presence in Ghodaghodi Tal area during 1998. Actually I saw a skin of it and possessor saysit’s asBhaluBiralo. Assamese monkeys are globally accepted presence between 600-1800masl, and I recorded it between 380-2250masl before, and break my own previous record, recording them this year (2016) outside the Churiya range around 160 masl and highest around 2500masl in Nepal.
In social systems, wildlife population compose of pair group, one breeding male and several breeding female group, many breeding male and female group and sometime male bands. No any records of such phenomenon explored for Nepal. I was interested for male bands. I found there are male bands not only in monkey troops but also in Blackbuck, wild water buffalo and in spotted deer. Astonishingly, I have recorded not only twins but triplets and quadruplets rhesus in Nepal and photographed. It is appreciated by Late Prof.Ramon Rhine, Conservation Chair California University, Late Prof. Charles H. Southwick, Colorado University and also by Prof. Irwin Bernstein, University of Georgia. Those scientistsresponded me saying it is unique in wild rhesus where one infants are common not more.
In Nepal from east to west, I have recorded brown and mixed gray wild pigs while far-west consists of total black with bluish tail bearing varieties. The morphological differences in barking deer, ghoral, hog deer with its fur color are recognized latitudinal and longitudinally. I have spotted and made first reporting of snow leopard from Langtang region and also captured photos of Serow from Shivapuri area which was never thought of its presence.
So, many unique lives are present in Nepal !Needs a systematic exploration and recording. The wildlife presence here are basically same as our neighboring countries, but extra-ordinary situation is Nepal’s position and topography that is reflected on its diverse forms and evolution of flora and fauna in a short distance. Presence of Simal tree is common here in one slope while rhododendron in opposite mountains, Sal tree has been reduced its girth size but found even in inner mountain valleys. Wild fauna (animals and birds) like Spotted deer, Sambhar, rhesus monkeys, common leopard, mongoose, porcupine and even hyenas and also peacock, partridge, parakeets in inner valleys of the Himalayas are common but very unique phenomenon plays a role to the adaptabilities of species in different level. Such attendance of animal composition must have triggered to the formation of new species ! Nepal could be good ground of evolution as its Churia range is prime site of origin of several species that was accepted longtime ago. So, we needs untiring efforts of exploration ! Isn’t it ?
Nepal is such a country of wonderful possession of biodiversity, however, very less works to globalize it. What may be the reasons ?
Our biodiversity has been treated as Blue Moon. Until and unless we expose our hidden treasures who will cares ? There is no difference whether there is something or not, if you donot explore and publish it. What is use of unknown wealth ? May be we are trekking above the diamond mines or gold or petroleum well, who knows ! If we donot explore and publicize, it is just a dirt or soil, that’s it.
The resources which are useful to daily life or which can create income generation should be widely farmed and commercialized. Once, there was a working policy for wildlife farming, breeding and research but was sacked by some of the nonscientific and corrupted power holders as it was going to benefit common people of Nepal. Those resource which are scarce or rare should be conserved and use them for income generation from tourism and knowledge sharing without using it as commodity, just observation. The less publicity of such items and very orthodox conservation mentality of concern institution behaved the natural resources also for preservation ! What a stupid implementation ideas of conservation ! I feel shame to those who behave and think like that. If people will be empowered for wildlife farming and income generation then there will be no hassle for conservation. People themselves take care and guard the wildlife and biodiversity of their area. No need of security staff and management, only need some facilitators to advise them scientifically.
Do you have foreseen the possibilities of biodiversity trekking or tourism in Nepal ? What will be role of government to promote it if feasible ?
I think tourism in Nepal is basically relying on biodiversity trekking. Tourists visit Nepal for the peaceful nature observation that can be come across within a short distance travelling. It is as true as that. What else ? However, I donot know why government and private sectors openly donot emphasize and say the fact. The current scenario of federalism also disrupts the settings of previous nature trek options and confused everybody. Nobody knows whether in each federal state would have different rules or there will be single national rules in this sector.
Let us discuss what will be the attraction of tourists and would observe if we accept previous political and admin settings of zones. A tourist can observe in one span from Tarai hot and subtropical elements to mid mountains and the Himalayan range if we go like follows. For example: Travelling from Suklaphanta to Dadeldhura and then Darchula and Apinampa Conservation area; Lumbini to TamghasResunga and then Baglung to Annapurna range and Muktinath; ThoriChitwan to GorkhaTrisuli,Gosainkunda and Kerung; KoshiTappu to BarahChhettra,Tumlingtar and then Makalu and Popti pass, Kechana,Jhapa to Ilam,Panchthar and Kanchenjungha.
Such trekking routes will cover all biogeographical elements of nature within a short span of 150-200 km. It will be a great attraction and fun to anybody trekking such way !They can see animals and plants of diverse shape and size; such as,Jungle fowl, peacock, Tarai Langurs, deer, rhino, elephant, tiger, wild buffalo gaur, leopard, assamese monkeys, Himalayan Langurs, Kaliz, ghoral, Himalayan Thar, Blue sheep, Red panda, pheasants, musk deer, snow leopard in one span. Is not such trekking will be wonderful for nature lovers ?
Peoples’ level initiative will lead a successful implementation of conservation program if allowed for farming and breeding and income generation from wildlife and aromatic and medicinal plants in buffer zone areas as well as private lands. People will be benefited by such scheme so they also take care their wilder areas and biodiversity for the promotion of tourism.
You are an expert on biodiversity and nature lover. More than three decades you sacrificed for its research. What will be your suggestion and expectation from the Nepal government in this sector ?
The conservation theories should be understood as it explains not by your bias or prejudice mentality. In Nepal, most of the cases of over exploitation of natural resources experienced by the resourceful and government allies not by general public and layman. Therefore, need a peoples’ oriented thinking in implementers and managers of resources. Just relying to funding agencies and INGOs, Nepal will not prosper, it will move forward economically and ethically by the sole effort of people and patriotic implementers and policy makers. By that day, Nepal will have shining dawn on nature conservation and enrichment of status of people. Such feelings, rules and regulation will enhance real conservation; means sustainable use of natural resources, that we wanted since so long. Let us hope.