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    DOUBLE ISSUE NEWSLETTER - January-April and May-August 2004

    In our last newsletter, we outlined anticipated work in the White Grass Plains Wildlife Reserve of far west Nepal for the winter season of 2003-2004. This work was to include: A. Two new water catchments. B. Three new waterholes in the eastern part of the park with water to be supplied from artesian bores. C. Restoration of an abandoned lake. D. The expansion of an existing waterhole in the central grasslands. E. The closure of an existing and environmentally hazardous canal. F. Design and implementation of an anti fish-poaching program.

Taru tribal women fishing in the traditional way in a waterhole at the edge of the White Grass Plains. They catch and eat frogs, crabs and small fish.

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    Commencing in November 2003, work was carried out in two phases; November-December, 2003 and January thru March, 2004. Due to political problems within the country and consequent delays in, among other things, enrolling labor forces, all of the anticipated work was not completed as planned. However, a considerable amount was done and it should be possible to conclude the uncompleted projects this coming winter. This last winter’s completed work included the following:

    A. Two new water catchments were planned in the north central part of the park. (For an explanation of the term “water catchments” see previous newsletters.) A survey was carried out in this area after which, because of the physical characteristics of the land, it was decided that one double-sized water catchment would be more suitable to the area than two smaller ones. Worked commenced in November and was completed in six weeks. The work included the cleaning, widening and deepening of a winter-dry river bed to a size and depth that would hold 250,000 gallons of water. When ready, the catchment was contained with a 100-foot long, dirt dam the surface of which was sealed with a 5 inch thick, steel wire, reinforced sheath. The dam contains two spillways. The catchment began filling with the first rains of June and by August was full, with excess water spilling naturally over the two spillways. As of July, tiger, elephant and rhino, deer and wild boar were coming the catchment to drink in what was previously a totally dry area, with no wildlife.

Hatti Pokri, the new 250,000 gallon water catchment, showing the building of the 100 foot dam and the laying of the concrete reinforced sheath. IWCS Treasurer Cathy Griffin took part in the project, bringing water from a jungle river for the cement. All work was manual.

    B. Three new waterholes in the eastern part of the park. A previous newsletter contains pictures of the area and of the old artesian bore pipes that bring water, with a flow that has been constant for 75 years, from deep underground. The plan to convert these three bores into waterholes included welding U-shaped, metal, protective extensions to each pipe to prevent vandalism. Unfortunately one pipe was vandalized before the work commenced; the miscreants in this case forced stones into the pipe, effectively blocking it, permanently. However two of the pipe extensions were completed, thus effectively safeguarding the bores. The next step was to build the waterholes in question around each pipe outlet. Local political conditions prevented this completion of the work; however, it is anticipated that it can be concluded this coming winter.

Using a portable generator, an engineer employed by IWCS works on the welding of the new safety extensions of the artesian bore water pipes.

    C. Rehabilitation of an abandoned lake. The work was designed to be carried out in three stages. These were, the cleaning of both the lake bed (removal of dead trees, debris, etc.,) and the lake’s outlet channel; the closing of a major breach in its southern bank and the building of a small container dam with a spillway. Work commenced in January with the closing of the big breach. (See photo of this in previous newsletter). This entailed filling it and packing it with approximately 100 cubic yards of dirt. Twenty-five men were employed for the work and the breach was closed in 10 days. However, as with the artisan bore work, the remaining work-the cleaning of the lake, plus the container dam and spillway-could not be completed within the allotted time; it is presently rescheduled for this coming winter.

    D. The central grasslands waterhole expansion. This project was postponed when, because of incessant delays caused by local political conditions, we simply ran out of time.

    E. The canal in question was an ill-advised venture, planned as it was to draw water from the single river that supports the wetlands of the Great Swamp of the WGP. After being informed of this by IWCS, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife ordered the canal to be closed and this work was then carried out by the department.

    F. Working with the wildlife warden of the park, Mr. Tikka Adikari, the aforementioned anti-fish poaching program was designed and set in motion. The purpose of the program is to prevent poachers coming to the park’s lakes and rivers to illegally catch fish. In an effort to anticipate their arrival and then apprehend them, informers were enlisted to circulate among the Indian villages, on the other side of the Nepal border, from where these men come. As of April '04 the program has been set in motion and it is hoped that during the rains (June to Oct) which is when the poaching gangs usually operate, some if not all of them can a be apprehended. A grant of $500 was provided for this program by the American Himalayan Foundation and this was handed over the park warden, to finance the program, in March 04.

The Bauni River bridges. On the left, the new bridge (built in 1980). On the right, the old bridge, built by IWCS with a grant from Doris Duke in 1971.

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    Plans for the coming winter include the conclusion of the artesian bore waterhole project-the construction of two waterholes-and the remainder of the restoration work on the abandoned lake of Bhat Puri. In addition, depending on what grants are donated to IWCS for the work, a new fish habitat project is planned.

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    The new fish habitat project is designed on the absence of suitable habitat for large fish in the park's central jungle river, the Bauni. As of now this pristine, slow-flowing, jungle river, which has an average depth of two meters, has only two deep areas; one lies north of the Bauni river bridge, the other south. Large fish-and the Bauni has 27 species of which several reach a weight of 10 kilograms-need deep water habitat and the purpose of the new project is to create this. A survey carried out in March, 2004, found an old arm of the river that had became silted up. This old channel is 300 meters long and 35 meters wide. The plan calls for digging this out to a depth of 5 meters and rejoining it to the river and its perennial flow. A small grant of $2500 is presently being sought for this work. With this in hand, the work will be carried out this coming (2004/’05) winter.

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    Our next newsletter will cover the period of this coming winter through which, political conditions allowing, we hope to conclude the unfinished projects of last year and the unique, new fish habitat project.

Wild bees in the forest; they can be dangerous if disturbed. Wild boar on a jungle road. Breathing hole of a land crab; in the dry months they hibernate at a depth of 4 feet or more. In the night a wild elephant came and stomped on some of our equipment; the new catchment was named after him–Hatti Pokri-or “elephant waterhole”. A jungle grasshopper which, when threatened, disguises itself a leaf. A monitor lizard watches from his hideout in a sal tree. A curious langur monkey watches us working at the new catchment. Peter Byrne in the White Grass Plains, winter, 2003/’04.


The American Himalayan Foundation, for continuing generous support of the society’s programs in The White Grass Plains Wildlife Reserve.

Dr. T. M. Maskey, Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, for his kindly interest and support of our IWCS projects.

Mr. Tikka Ram Adikari, Warden of the White Grass Plains, for his advice and assistance to the projects.

Tom Dadras, of Brentwood, for the generous contribution of his valuable time and expertise in the maintenance of our website and the quarterly inclusion of our ongoing newsletter.

Nasser Aboulela, of Brentwood, for his “magic wand” applications that recently rid our computer system of more than 200 accumulated viruses.

Our fundraising team, headed by IWCS Treasurer Cathy Griffin and nobly assisted by Karen Gough and Holli Hines Eastman of Atlanta, and Jane Galbraith, of Los Angeles. And all who contributed to our continuing fundraising, including Jeanne Fields and John Binder, Megan Beale, Amber Cluck, Teri Cluck, Liesl Erman, Amy Leggio, Pat Logan, Nonie Otto, Allison Roe, Judy Ross, Alice Rudnick and Candice Stein.

Adult tigress in the White Grass Plains; photo taken with a motion sensor camera at night. The WGP presently has a population of 31 tigers, 20 wild elephant, 1500 Swamp deer, 380 species of birds, 27 species of fish and healthy populations of wild boar, crocodile, deer (five species in all) and many smaller animals including hyena, jackal, porcupine and pangolins, or scaly anteaters.

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