While the villagers have engaged in community work, they haven’t forgotten the importance of taking precautionary measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Locals of Amaltari village in Nawalparasi, famed for its homestay service, have put the time on the hands because of the Covid-19 lockdown to good use. For the one month, the locals have engaged in cleaning up lakes and setting up new ponds for the wildlife in the Gundruhi Dhakaha Community Forest. They have been maintaining social-distancing all the while.

The community forest lies on the western sector of the Chitwan National Park. Many wildlife in the park tends to be on the hunt for placid waters during the summer.

Deputy Mayor of Kawasoti Municipality and one of the pioneers of the Amaltari Tharu Homestay Prem Shankar Mardaniya said that the participation of the locals has been encouraging while they have been asked to adopt precautions against Covid-19.

“Summer is a time when sources of water, lakes and ponds go dry, which can be detrimental to the wellbeing of wildlife,” he said. “During their hunt for the waters, the animals might also maraud the settlements, which is why setting up a good habitat for them now is of paramount importance.”

For many visitors in Amaltari Tharu Homestay, wildlife sighting is one of the attractions of the stay, which is why the locals have understood the importance of cleanliness and maintenance of still water resources, Mardaniya said.

Gundruhi Dhakaha has seen several of its ponds and lakes dry over the years, threatening the existence of wildlife. “Wildlife like rhinos like to stay in still waters during summer,” Nara Bahadur Mahato, chair of the forest management committee, said. “It’s important to set them up for favourable habitat during the summer, hence the villagers have taken turns to preserve the water resources.”

Mahato was quick to add that while the villagers have engaged in community work, they haven’t forgotten the coronavirus catastrophe that has swept the world and has been making headway to Nepal as well. “Everyone is aware of the precautionary measures against the outbreak,” he said. “Everyone wears masks and uses sanitisers, all the while maintaining physical-distancing.”

Moreover, the forest committee has also constructed a corridor from the village to the eastern front of the jungle to aid animal sighting for the visitors. The committee has plans to set up about a dozen lakes and ponds, according to Mahato. “Our aim is to develop the area as a holistic tourist destination, and we are well on our way,” he said.

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