Nepali Times
Nepali Society
Garlands for Maskey



MIN BAJRACHARYA

When Tirtha Man Maskey arrived to take up his assignment of warden of Royal Chitwan National Park in 1973 there was a crowd waiting for him. He thought they were there to garland him. "Actually they were there to beat me up," Maskey recalls. The people of Chitwan saw the park as a threat to their livelihood.

More than 30 years later, Chitwan is cited worldwide as a model for people and park strategy where villagers actively work for conservation. Maskey's pioneering work at Royal Chitwan and later in the Department of National Parks and Widlife recently won him the 2005 Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Media Award which he got from Britain's Prince Philip. Last year Maskey was also honoured with the 2004 Order of the Golden Ark by late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

With other Nepali conservationists, Maskey was successful in educating communities surrounding Nepal's national parks that they could benefit from the tourism and biodiversity conservation. He designed the buffer zones around protected areas that cushioned human pressure.

Maskey has also championed the cause of the endangered Gangetic gharial. Collecting eggs from the wild, the small fish-eating crocodiles are hatched and raised at rearing facilities for five years before being released to their natural habitat. Chitwan's gharial farm set up with help from the Frankfurt Zoo has not just helped save the reptile from extinction but also turned into a tourist attraction in its own right.

Maskey was also recognised for strengthening anti-poaching operations in Nepal's national parks and it is due to these efforts that Nepal's rhinos and tigers are not being hunted down as they are elsewhere. Maskey has also been a key figure in international coordination to enhance transboundary conservation.

"If you are creative and willing to initiate your own projects, there are plenty of jobs in wildlife research and conservation in Nepal," says Maskey who retired as director general of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation last month. But this doesn't mean retirement from conservation, Maskey wants to keep on with his research and writing. After all, he is theonly Nepali to have a frog named after him: the Sphaerothaeca maskeyi a rare amphibian that he discovered.

Last month, Maskey went to Royal Bardia National Park for a farewell visit. There was a large crowd waiting for him at the warden's office. This time they were really there to garland him.

(Mallika Aryal)



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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