Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) signed a grant agreement with Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) to provide grant of up to Nu 396,000 for the project titled “Enhancement of Patrolling along Manas River, one of the Hotspots of Illegal Activities Under Royal Manas National Park” on 2 September 2019.
Under this project RMNP will construct one wooden boat and two machine boats procure three-foot pump, 20-safety helmet and 20-life vest at Manas Range. These tools will enable the Park Rangers increase their frequency of patrolling through use of wooden boat, machine boat and plastic boat. At the same time the safety of the commuters including park rangers, staff and visitors will be enhanced. It will also benefit towards the conservation since the staffs on duty for wildlife patrolling, fishing patrolling and various types of surveys needs to be ferried through these boats. Moreover, Manas being one of the ecotourism hotspots, there are numbers of tourists and guests visiting the area where the construction of reliable travel mechanism is vital.
The rangers of the Manas Range Office solely depend on the functionality of the boat for daily patrolling along the river and in the vicinity of Manas Range Office. The riparian ecosystem provides access of wildlife to water and also it is the key migratory route for keystone predator species in the river like Golden Masheer. Therefore, patrolling along the river system is one of the priority areas to curb illegal fishing and poaching of other key species like big cats and elephant.
The only way to conduct effective patrolling is to have functioning boat. Currently there are only two partially damaged wooden boats and one partially functioning rubber boat. With these semi-functional boats, it is impossible conduct normal duties during the peak monsoon season. Lack of boats hinders the rangers from conducting patrolling. Even during winter use of the boats pose threats to life of rangers, boatmen and visitors alike.
More than 50 staff are currently stationed near the park Range Office. Thus, on daily basis dozens of staffs need to cross the river for shopping and commute for various other reasons for the staff and their family members. Therefore, a reliable transportation for crossing the river is vital for sustenance of the staffs. Similarly, effective transportation is key to safety and security of everyone stationed at the Park Range Office including the officials of Royal Bhutan Army stationed there.
During security emergencies the patrolling has to be done irrespective of any weather condition. Sometimes the travel needs to be done at night hours. Thus, procurement of life vests and safety helmets would immensely improve the safety of the rangers and park staffs.
When weather condition is favourable, the rangers also use plastic boat for patrolling. Use of plastic boat also reduces overuse of the wooden boats. Availability of a plastic boat also provides alternative means for transportation during repair of wooden boats. However, only one low-power foot-pump takes long duration to inflate the boat. Thus, purchase of high-power foot-pump will improve efficiency of the plastic boat.