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Abhaya Raj Joshi

Kathmandu, Nepal
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About Abhaya
Abhaya Raj Joshi is a journalist based in Kathmandu, Nepal.
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Warming climate threatens to worsen air quality in already polluted Kathmandu

29 Apr 2024  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Kathmandu faces severe air pollution, exacerbated by vehicle emissions, factory pollution, construction dust, and its valley location. Climatologist Sudeep Thakuri warns that climate change may worsen the situation by affecting rainfall patterns, which cleanse the air. The city's air quality is already a major health concern, with around 5,000 deaths annually. Wildfires, influenced by climate change, contribute to the pollution. Air quality specialist Bhupendra Das and conservationist Rajendra Narayan Suwal emphasize the need for regional cooperation and forest management to address the issue. The article suggests that tackling air pollution can also have positive impacts on emissions reduction.

Nepal govt bypasses parliament to allow commercial projects in protected areas

28 Apr 2024  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal's government has issued a controversial ordinance bypassing parliament to facilitate foreign investment in protected areas, potentially undermining conservation efforts. The ordinance, signed by President Ram Chandra Poudel, amends several laws, including the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, to allow infrastructure projects in areas previously considered sensitive. Critics argue this move could have long-term negative consequences for conservation and local communities. The ordinance was issued ahead of the Nepal Investment Summit to attract foreign investors, with projects like cable car lines in the Annapurna region and a hotel in Rara National Park on the agenda. The ordinance must be endorsed by parliament within six months to remain law.

Sagarmatha microbes may survive harsh conditions for decades

05 Apr 2024  |  news.mongabay.com
A study published in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research found that tough microbes can survive extreme conditions on Mount Everest for decades. Despite strong winds at the South Col, microbes such as bacteria, protists, and fungi, including some found only at high altitudes, were detected in soil samples. The study, which involved researchers setting up the world's highest weather station, suggests that these microbes are surviving but not necessarily living, as they can remain dormant when frozen. The findings have implications for understanding microbial survival in harsh climates and potentially on other planets.

For tigers in Nepal, highways are a giant roadblock best avoided

04 Apr 2024  |  news.mongabay.com
A study focusing on the impact of road traffic on tiger movements in Nepal's Bardiya National Park and Parsa National Park has revealed that roads significantly impede tiger movements within their habitats. Researchers observed a female tiger in Bardiya and a male tiger in Parsa, both fitted with GPS collars, and found that traffic volume affects their movements, space use, and habitat selection. The study, important in light of plans to expand the East-West Highway, showed that tigers adapted quickly to reduced traffic during COVID-19 lockdowns, suggesting potential mitigation measures. The study's findings are crucial for tiger conservation, as roads can alter hunting and mating behaviors, impacting survival and fitness at the population level. The government of Nepal has introduced guidelines for wildlife-friendly infrastructure but has seen little implementation. The study calls for more research and the use of mitigation measures to conserve tiger populations.

UN award for Nepal’s tiger range restoration spurs euphoria amid challenges

01 Feb 2024  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal's Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) initiative, launched in 2004 to restore ecosystems and create dispersal space for tigers, has been recognized as one of seven U.N. World Restoration Flagships. The initiative has restored 66,800 hectares of forest and nearly tripled the Bengal tiger population. Despite this success, challenges such as infrastructure development, human-wildlife conflict, political instability, and climate change persist. The U.N. recognition will provide technical and financial support for further restoration. Experts emphasize the need for wildlife-friendly infrastructure and effective policy measures to sustain the initiative's success.

For Nepal, 2023 changed course of tiger conservation efforts

01 Dec 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
In 2023, Nepal shifted its tiger conservation strategy from increasing numbers to sustaining the population, focusing on coexistence, connectivity, and genetic viability. The National Tiger Conservation Action Plan (NTCAP) for 2023-32 aims to manage habitats, reduce human-tiger conflicts, and enhance institutional capacity. Challenges include negative human-tiger interactions, infrastructure development, and food availability. Studies highlight the impact of roads on tiger behavior and the need for large prey to reduce livestock predation. Human migration to tiger habitats and a controversial proposal for sport hunting by Nepal's environment minister add to the complexities. Technological advancements like AI-powered deer tracking are being explored despite facing challenges.

Nepal’s birds pay cost for country’s infrastructure development

01 Dec 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal's push for hydropower and road infrastructure to improve living standards is challenging bird conservation efforts. Ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral highlighted the threats to avian diversity, with Mongabay reporting on issues such as the stable numbers of endangered white-rumped vultures despite threats like poisoning, the impact of power lines from hydropower projects on birds, the conservation of sarus cranes in the Buddha's birthplace, hunting threats to cheer pheasants during mating season, and the mysterious gathering of a super flock of pigeons. The government's Vulture Conservation Action Plan aims to address some of these threats.

Nepal’s Madhesh province lacks in biodiversity research & conservation

13 Nov 2023  |  news.mongabay.com
Abhaya Raj Joshi has written a series of articles focusing on various environmental and wildlife conservation issues in Nepal. Topics range from the lack of biodiversity research in Madhesh province, the threats faced by wild canines during the festival of Diwali, to the potential benefits of 'predator-proof' husbandry in reducing human-leopard conflicts. Joshi also covers technological advancements in tiger conservation, legal challenges to 'triple taxation' on community forests, and the underpowered but determined wildlife crime fighters in Nepal. The articles discuss the controversy over hydropower development in protected areas, the implications of gifting rhinos to China, the return of wolves to the Himalayas, and the first otter sighting in Chitwan National Park in two decades. Additionally, Joshi reports on a super flock of pigeons, snow leopard sightings, vulture colony threats, the cultural reverence for sarus cranes linked to the Buddha, the management of human-friendly rhinos, the threat to an endemic lizard by a highway, and revisions to Nepal's wildlife compensation program.

On Nepal’s day to honor dogs, wild canines face mounting threats

01 Nov 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
During Nepal's Tihar festival, dogs are celebrated, but the Asiatic wild dog, or dhole, faces threats such as human persecution, disease, wildfires, and competition with other predators. With a declining global population, conservationists emphasize the need for research and conservation plans, similar to those for other species in Nepal. The IUCN Dhole Working Group has discussed the impact of increasing tiger numbers on dholes, and the potential competition with recolonizing Himalayan wolves. Measures such as addressing human-dhole conflict and transboundary efforts are suggested for the dhole's long-term conservation.

Faced with disease spread, wildfire and human hostility, Nepal’s wild dog population dwindles

30 Oct 2023  |  Scroll.in
Nepal's wild dog population, specifically the endangered Asiatic wild dog or dhole, faces significant threats from human persecution, disease spread, wildfires, and competition with other predators. Conservationists like Ambika Khatiwada and Hem Sagar Baral highlight the need for more research and conservation efforts, including addressing human-dhole conflict and implementing national and regional conservation plans. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and the IUCN Dhole Working Group emphasize the importance of transboundary efforts to ensure the connectivity of dhole populations across their range.

Conservationists condemn Nepal proposal to allow hydropower in protected areas

11 Oct 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepali conservationists are outraged over a proposal by the Ministry of Forest and Environment to ease the construction of large-scale hydropower plants in protected areas. The draft proposal, which would allow developers to build projects entirely within these areas and release less water during the dry season, is criticized for its legal flaws and potential risks to conservation efforts. Experts argue that the changes could undermine decades of conservation gains and adversely affect biodiversity and local communities. The proposal has sparked a debate on balancing development with environmental protection, with various stakeholders expressing strong opposition.

Human-tiger conflicts seen to rise as migrants move into Nepal national park

02 Oct 2023  |  Eco-Business
The influx of migrants into Chitwan, Nepal, is raising concerns about increased human-tiger conflicts and environmental degradation. Rapid urbanization and population growth in Chitwan are putting pressure on local forests and wildlife, including the Bengal tiger. Conservationists emphasize the need for awareness and proper environmental safeguards to mitigate these challenges. Despite local government incentives to retain residents in hill areas, migration to the plains continues due to better economic opportunities and healthcare access.

Conservationists urge caution as Nepal to gift more rhinos to China

30 Sep 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal has committed to gifting two more greater one-horned rhinos to China, a decision made during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to Beijing. Conservationists urge caution in selecting the rhinos, suggesting orphaned calves accustomed to human interaction as ideal candidates. Nepal has previously gifted rhinos to various countries, and the selection process involves separating newborns from their mothers, a challenging task for conservationists. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation is yet to decide which rhinos to send.

Return of the wolf to Nepal’s Himalayas may threaten snow leopards

29 Sep 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
The reemergence of Himalayan wolves in Nepal's Himalayas poses a new threat to the already vulnerable snow leopards. Researchers observed that the wolves' presence is impacting the behavior and population of naur, the primary prey for snow leopards. The increased vigilance required by naur to avoid wolves could lead to nutritional deficiencies, affecting their long-term health and reproduction. Conservationists suggest focusing on improving prey populations to support both predators. The return of wolves, potentially due to domesticated yaks from Tibet, may also heighten human-wildlife conflicts.

Nepal Reserve Prepares to Welcome Rhinos in Bid to Boost Biodiversity

27 Sep 2023  |  Common Dreams
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in eastern Nepal is set to receive two greater one-horned rhinos, Pushpa and Anjali, from Chitwan National Park on World Tourism Day. This translocation aims to boost both biodiversity and tourism in the region. The rhinos, rescued as calves and cared for by the National Trust for Nature Conservation, will be the first of their species in Koshi Tappu. The move is part of Nepal's long-term plan to create multiple viable populations of the vulnerable species. The translocation is supported by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and is seen as a positive step in Nepal's successful conservation efforts.

A rhino-less reserve in Nepal is set to get its first two rhino habitants

27 Sep 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in eastern Nepal is preparing to receive two greater one-horned rhinos, Pushpa and Anjali, from Chitwan National Park on World Tourism Day. The translocation aims to boost tourism and biodiversity in the eastern Terai Arc region. The rhinos, rescued as calves and habituated to humans, were previously released into the wild in Chitwan but are now being relocated for their safety and to reduce human conflict. Nepal has been successful in rhino conservation, with zero poaching and a growing population. The translocation is part of a long-term plan to create multiple viable rhino populations in Nepal.

‘More research leads to more awareness’: Q&A with fishing cat expert Rama Mishra

24 Aug 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Fishing cats in Nepal face significant threats from habitat loss, human conflict, and competition from other predators. Despite being overshadowed by larger cats like tigers and snow leopards, conservationist Rama Mishra has dedicated her career to studying and protecting these elusive felines. Mishra's work, which began in 2012 with the founding of the Terai Fishing Cat Project, involves engaging local communities and raising awareness about the species. Her research has revealed that a significant portion of the fishing cat population lives outside protected areas, making community engagement crucial. Mishra's efforts have been supported by various organizations, including the University of Antwerp, the National Trust for Nature Conservation, and the Rufford Foundation. She emphasizes the need for more research and data to further conservation efforts.

The endangered gharial’s conservation crisis highlighted after death of a male in Nepal

01 Aug 2023  |  india.mongabay.com
A male gharial, critically endangered and crucial for species survival due to its role in mating with multiple females, was found dead in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, entangled in a fishing net. With only a few hundred gharials left in the wild, the death of a male, particularly in a population with a skewed sex ratio favoring females, poses a significant threat to conservation efforts. Park officials have been incubating eggs at specific temperatures to increase male hatchlings, but the effectiveness and sustainability of this method are debated. The article also discusses the impact of temperature-dependent sex determination and the challenges in identifying gharial sex before adulthood. Fishing has been banned in Chitwan during the monsoon, but illegal fishing still occurs, often harming the gharials.

As human-wildlife conflict simmers, Nepal revises compensation program

17 Jul 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
New guidelines in Nepal make it easier for those affected by human-wildlife conflict to receive compensation, addressing the needs of local communities and respecting the federal structure. The changes include compensation for damages caused by 16 types of animals and provisions for livestock and crop damage on private land. While the guidelines improve many aspects for farmers, issues such as land ownership requirements and compensation for damages inside buildings remain. The government acknowledges the need for insurance schemes to provide sustainable relief and compensation.

Rhinos in Nepal’s national park found ingesting sachets, other plastic waste

11 Jul 2023  |  Eco-Business
A study analyzing 258 dung samples from Nepal's Chitwan National Park found that 10.1% contained visible plastic, posing a threat to the health and survival of the one-horned rhinoceros. Plastic waste, including bottle caps and sachets, is prevalent in the park, especially after monsoon floods. The study, led by Balram Awasthi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, did not examine long-term effects but suggests potential digestive, metabolic, and reproductive issues for the rhinos. Veterinarian Amir Sadaula emphasized the need for further research to assess the impact of plastic on the animals. The government and conservation partners are urged to conduct cleanup programs and adopt sustainable waste management to prevent pollution.

Critics decry Nepal minister’s ‘terrible idea’ of ‘sport hunting’ tigers

01 Jul 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal's environment minister, Birendra Mahato, has sparked outrage by suggesting that wealthy foreigners be allowed to hunt tigers for sport, arguing it could generate significant revenue for conservation. Critics, including conservationists and local communities, argue that such a move would jeopardize Nepal's successful tiger conservation efforts and pose serious ecological and cultural risks. Experts highlight that hunting could disrupt tiger social networks, increase human-wildlife conflict, and lead to unintended ecological consequences. The proposal also faces strong opposition from Indigenous communities who have made significant sacrifices for tiger conservation.

Nepal’s rhinos are eating plastic waste, study finds

30 Jun 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal's Chitwan National Park faces a growing threat as plastic waste, brought in by monsoon floods, is ingested by the vulnerable one-horned rhinoceros. A study found that 10.1% of rhino dung samples contained visible plastic, with higher contamination in the park's core zone. The plastic waste, including chewing tobacco sachets and bottle caps, poses potential health risks to the rhinos, though the long-term effects remain unclear. Researchers call for post-monsoon cleanup programs and sustainable waste management practices in upstream towns to mitigate this emerging conservation threat.

Death of rare male gharial in Nepal highlights conservation crisis

26 Jun 2023  |  news.mongabay.com
A critically endangered male gharial was found dead in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, entangled in a fishing net, highlighting the species' conservation crisis. With only a few hundred left in the wild, the death of a male, vital for breeding, poses a severe threat to the population. Conservation efforts include controlled incubation to increase male hatchlings, but the effectiveness and sustainability of such programs are debated. The gharial's survival is further threatened by fishing, habitat changes, and poaching, while climate change may skew sex ratios even more towards females.

Seeking environmental DNA in Himalayan rivers: Q&A with Adarsh Man Sherchan

01 Jun 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Adarsh Man Sherchan, a conservation geneticist in Nepal, discusses the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for aquatic biodiversity assessments in the country's rivers, particularly in the context of hydropower plant development. Sherchan, who graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and worked with the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, highlights the challenges of collecting eDNA samples from unpredictable Himalayan rivers and the importance of safety during fieldwork. The interview also touches on the process of eDNA extraction and the role of taxonomists in filtering data noise during sequencing.

Lucky No. 13? Latest images could add to Nepal’s 12 wildcat species

01 Jun 2023  |  news.mongabay.com
In early February 2022, researchers in Nepal analyzing camera trap images for a tiger census in the Chitwan-Parsa Complex discovered a photo of a small cat resembling the Asiatic wildcat, a species whose presence in Nepal has been long debated. The country is known for its feline diversity, with 12 wildcat species identified. The Asiatic wildcat, a subspecies of the African wildcat, is common across Asia and Africa but faces threats such as habitat destruction and hybridization with domestic cats. Wildlife ecologist Yadav Ghimirey and his team have documented suspected Asiatic wildcats in Nepal, but DNA evidence is needed to confirm their presence. The IUCN lists the species as of least concern but calls for more studies. Funding challenges make it difficult to study the animal extensively.

Nepal’s power lines are bird death traps amid hydropower boom

30 May 2023  |  Eco-Business
In Nepal, power lines from hydropower projects are causing a significant number of bird deaths, including critically endangered species like the white-rumped vulture. Despite the country's heavy investment in hydropower to address power shortages, the environmental impact on birds has been largely overlooked. Studies have shown a rise in bird electrocutions and collisions with power lines, with flawed environmental impact assessments and lack of implementation of recommendations. Conservationists advocate for bird abundance studies, wildlife-friendly infrastructure design, and retrofitting existing power lines with simple measures to reduce fatalities. The Nepal Electricity Authority acknowledges a drastic increase in high-voltage transmission lines, while the Electricity Regulatory Commission defers the issue to the Ministry of Environment.

Nepal clamps down on wealthy wildlife collectors with landmark court ruling

30 May 2023  |  Eco-Business
Nepal's Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling directing the government to enforce conservation laws and seize illegal private wildlife collections. The court also mandated awareness programs and the use of seized items for educational purposes. Conservationist Kumar Paudel, who filed the petition, highlighted the double standards in law enforcement, which often target the poor while ignoring the elite. The ruling aims to address these disparities and strengthen wildlife crime deterrence. However, there is skepticism about the government's commitment to implementing the court's order.

How Nepal’s bureaucracy is hurting its startup industry

15 May 2023  |  Rest of World
Nepal's startup industry, particularly the electric vehicle sector, is being hindered by bureaucratic red tape. A notable example is Yatri Motorcycles, which faced challenges with the registration of their locally made EV bike, the P1. Despite initial interim certificates allowing operation, the lack of a directive for local vehicle registration led to impounding of the bikes. The issue was eventually resolved after intervention from the Prime Minister. However, the broader problem persists, with innovators and entrepreneurs facing significant barriers due to outdated policies and bureaucratic inertia. The Global Innovation Index ranks Nepal low in innovation capabilities and government support. The World Bank's Doing Business project indicates a longer-than-average time to start a business in Nepal. Critics argue that political connections may influence the resolution of such issues, while others fear for the future of their businesses without clear policies. The government is working on an ICT bill to address legal gray areas for tech-enabled businesses, but industry insiders believe that without a change in bureaucratic attitude, legislation alone will not suffice.

Nepal comes next in line to Sri Lanka to debate exporting ‘problematic’ monkeys

01 May 2023  |  Mongabay-India
In Nepal, farmers and officials are grappling with the issue of crop-raiding rhesus macaques, leading to discussions on exporting the monkeys to control their population and generate revenue. This debate follows a similar proposal in Sri Lanka, which faced public outcry and was halted. Proponents argue that exporting monkeys could address the pest problem and benefit the economy, while experts and conservationists highlight the legal, ethical, and ecological complexities involved. They advocate for comprehensive solutions, including habitat management and local research, to address the root causes of human-wildlife conflict.

Lack of large prey may be feeding rise in Nepal’s human-tiger conflicts

01 May 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Residents of Geruwa in western Nepal have faced increased human-tiger conflicts due to a lack of large prey for tigers in Bardiya National Park. Conservationists highlight that tigers are preying on smaller animals, leading to more attacks on livestock and humans. The government and researchers are considering translocating larger prey species like wild buffalo and gaur to mitigate the issue, though past translocation efforts have had limited success. The situation underscores the need for strategic planning to sustain tiger populations and reduce conflicts.

In Nepal, Chepang take up the challenge to revive their cultural keystone tree

01 May 2023  |  news.mongabay.com
In central Nepal, the Chepang tribe is working to revive the chiuri tree, a species integral to their culture and livelihood. With the help of various agencies, young, educated Chepangs are regenerating chiuri forests to establish a sustainable source of income through the sale of chiuri fruits, butter, and honey. The Forest and Farm Facility project, now concluded, and the ongoing efforts of the Mount Everest Forest Botanicals Alliance, aim to connect the community with national industries and international markets. Despite challenges such as militarized conservation efforts and modern lifestyle changes, the Chepang are optimistic about the potential of chiuri trees to prevent soil erosion, uplift their community out of poverty, and preserve their cultural heritage.

With no minister since October 2022, Nepal’s environmental issues hang in limbo

19 Apr 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
Nepal has been without an environment minister since October 2022, which has led to concerns about the handling of environmental issues and forest management. The former minister, Pradeep Yadav, was dismissed by then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, and the current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has yet to appoint a successor. This has affected the ability of organizations like the Federation of Community Forestry Users, Nepal to advocate for changes in forest laws. The absence of a minister is also problematic as Nepal faces forest fires and air pollution, and it sends a negative message internationally as Nepal seeks climate adaptation finance. Despite the challenges, some see the delay in appointment as indicative of the position's importance. The new minister will need to address environmental and political issues, including controversial construction and wildlife farming legislation.

Mother-son YouTubers cook Nepali dishes with sides of nostalgia and ASMR

14 Apr 2023  |  restofworld.org
Kanchhi Maiya Bhandari and her son Prakash run a YouTube channel called KanchhiKitchen, where they share videos of Kanchhi Maiya cooking traditional Nepali dishes in a village setting. The channel, which started during the Covid-19 pandemic, has gained popularity for its ASMR quality and the nostalgia it evokes among Nepalis worldwide. They plan to introduce new content, including a homestay experience, while maintaining their commitment to organic, green, and sustainable cooking. Despite some negative comments, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with viewers expressing a deep connection to their cultural roots.

Rare hispid hares feel the heat from Nepal’s tiger conservation measures

07 Apr 2023  |  Mongabay Environmental News
In Nepal, controlled grassland burning practices aimed at tiger habitat management are posing a threat to the endangered hispid hare, particularly during its breeding season. Researchers suggest that the timing and method of burning should be adjusted to protect the species. The hispid hare, which was once thought to be extinct, is now found in fragmented habitats across Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of India. Conservationists recommend selective grassland burning and scientific management strategies to prevent grassland succession into woodlands and to protect the hispid hare's habitat.

World’s ‘grumpiest cat’ found taking refuge on the world’s highest mountain

31 Mar 2023  |  Scroll.in
The elusive manul, also known as Pallas's cat, has been found in the region around Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) through a study that analyzed scat samples. This discovery by Tracie Seimon's team, part of the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition, marks the first confirmation of the species in Nepal's eastern Himalayas. Despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifying the manul as a species of least concern, conservationists emphasize the need for a conservation action plan, particularly due to threats like poisoning of the cat's prey, the pika, and overgrazing of grasslands.

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