Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve only hunting reserve area in Nepal Himalayas in the country, has been a subject of encroachment. Approxima-tely 250 hectares of the reserve spread over Baglung, Myagdi and Rukum has already been intruded upon. As per the statistics of the Reserve office, Baglung tops the chart with over 175 hectares encroached, followed by Myagdi and Rukum with 60 and 16 hectares, respectively. And though data collection was done one and a half years ago, further encroachment has gone unabated since then, said Reserve officer Bishwo Babu Shrestha.
The Reserve has stated that 311 households from Adhikari Chaur, Bobang, Nisi and Bungadobhan of Baglung, Ranma, Maikot, Hukam, Taksera, Kol, and Kakri of Rukum, and Lulangkhoriya and Gurjakhani of Myagdi, who are living in 55 settlements have reportedly intruded land. According to sources, the encroachers are not squatters but locals with political affiliation.
Shrestha said that the trend started since 1990 and gathered momentum after the Reserve office was displaced during the Maoist insurgency. The then Maoist rebels had established a military training centre in the Reserve. “Not much has changed even though the office has been re-established now,” said Shrestha.
The Reserve believed that unless immediate measures were put in place to curb the situation, it could potentially pose a threat to the existence of the Reserve.
The Reserve had tried to remove the illegal settlements last year, however, the programme failed due to the lack of cooperation among locals and administration. “The task to remove them is not easy as they are backed politically,” said local teacher Chakra Bahadur Adai.
Ranger Saroj Panthi stressed that it was the need of the hour to organise a meeting with Chief District Officers and stakeholders of all three districts in order to come up with a programme to tackle the problem.
The encroachment reportedly spead across the area after it became a tourist destination, contributing to a rise in land prices and towards the risk of extinction faced by several lakes near the Reserve.