The river management plan for the conservation of Gharial and Aquatic species in Narayani and Rapti River, 2019 – 2023

Funding partner – Chitwan National Park

Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers and their tributaries are the lifelines of Chitwan National Park. Rapti and Narayani Rivers are the prime habitats for critically endangered gharial crocodiles. In the Narayani river, the Endangered dolphins are also frequently reported. Survival of such endangered aquatic animals, as well as other wetland-dependent species such as marsh crocodile, otter, mahseer fish, relies on the functional river ecosystem. These Rivers also provide shelter for many residents and migratory aquatic birds. An indispensable part of habitats of several globally significant mega flagship species like rhinoceros, tiger and many others are connected directly or indirectly to these rivers. These rivers are the lifeline for sustaining large human and livestock populations living in the buffer zone and outside. There are several ethnic groups like Bote, Musar, Majhi, and Tharu in Buffer Zone whose livelihood still depends largely on these rivers. Besides, these rivers carry very important cultural and religious values for the people of Nepal and beyond.

Despite such importance, the rivers have not received enough attention, in terms of conservation and management. The rivers have been facing a grave threat due to the widespread and unsustainable exploitation of rivers. Due to unprecedented population growth, haphazard industrial development coupled with increased anthropogenic activities like the use of destructive methods and excessive use of resources, Narayani and Rapti Rivers are exerting more and more resource use pressure. Creating a balancing the persistently increasing resource demands and declining river resources both in quality and quantity and in the context of climate change is challenging. The conservation efforts of the park are focused on terrestrial habitats.

In this context, this River management plan (2019-23) for Narayani, Rapti and Reu rivers in Chitwan National Park has been prepared with the aim of securing the functional ecosystem based on these rivers as well as ensuring sustainable future of flora and fauna that depend directly or indirectly on these rivers. This plan gives particular emphasis on developing stewardship of local river dependent communities in managing river resources to benefit themselves and aquatic biodiversity. This management plan, focusing entirely on the River ecosystem, is first of its kind in Nepal. This plan includes the actions identified through rigorous consultation with the stakeholders and recommendations of the previous studies.

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