Understanding the perception of buffer zone communities to gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) conservation in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Authors: Abhinaya Pathak, Ashish Bashyal, Bishwa Nath Oli, Bishnu Thapaliya, Santosh Bhattarai, Sujan Khanal, Prashamsa Paudel


The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is a Critically Endangered species found in Nepal and India. In
Nepal, gharials are distributed in Chitwan and Bardia National Parks. Gharials are highly
threatened due to various and severe anthropogenic activities. In this study, we assess the attitude,
perception and willingness of a range of stakeholders living around Chitwan National Park to
participate in gharial conservation. We conducted semi-structured questionnaire surveys with open ended questions. We interviewed national park officials (n=8), local community group members
(n=54), hoteliers (n=12), conservation partners (n=5), local elected representatives (n=38), fishing
community members (n=14), fishing net sellers (n=15) and students (n=9). Our study revealed that
respondents are familiar with existing conservation awareness activities and expressed their
willingness to participate in gharial conservation activities which can be capitalized on for future
conservation initiatives for gharials. Further, we suggest to concentrate efforts particularly on local
representatives, fishing net sellers and river dependent communities. These efforts include
community level gharial knowledge sharing and interaction program, school teaching program,
participating community in gharial conservation and its habitat management intervention and
livelihood programs.

Keywords: Gharial; Crocodilian; Chitwan National Park; Buffer Zone, Perception

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