Est. 2013 A.D. (2069 B.S.) Operating in the southern plains of Nepal, Mithila Wildlife Trust (MWT) is a member based, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation, working primarily in Madhesh Province.
Motivated by the climate crisis and the neglect by policymakers of the wildlife living outside of PA, MWT is committed in equal measure to protecting and reinvigorating the abundant flora and fauna of southern Nepal and improving the lives of its overlooked and marginalized inhabitants.
We aspire to uplift and empower local people and restore nature in the region by implementing a community-based approach to conservation. Through an assortment of programmes and projects focussed on a range of core areas identified by MWT as requiring action, such as education, restoration, community support, and rescue and rehabilitation, we hope to raise awareness of various issues and offer practical, sustainable, and inclusive solutions to them.
Focussing our efforts on these keystone principles, we hope to repair the fractured relationship between humans and nature that has led to widespread damage in recent years. We believe that if we can positively repair this connection – allowing people, wildlife, and plants to live in harmony – both will benefit from increased opportunities to thrive.
Dev Narayan Mandal
In Nepal, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) is the primary government agency responsible for wildlife conservation. However, the DNPWC’s operating area is limited by law to Protected Areas (PA), which means that wildlife living outside of these established zones has fewer safeguards. There have been attempts to bridge this gap through Divisional Forest Offices (DFOs) – localized authorities responsible for conservation outside of PA – but they are often under resourced, limiting the effectiveness of their efforts.
Several species-focused censuses in Nepal have shown that a large proportion of protected species are permanently residing outside of PA, in community managed forests. This demonstrates the need for animal conservation through community-focused techniques. Mithila Wildlife Trust (MWT) supports and encourages communities to embed themselves in local conservation efforts.
MWT believes that conservation can be more sustainable if communities hold the responsibility for both wildlife and habitat conservation. Nepal’s community forest management has already become a global model for forest restoration efforts elsewhere.
After returning to Nepal from India in 2013, I began coordinating with like-minded people to protect wildlife, restore diminished forests, and to provide education to children of communities dependent on natural resources. I also began providing relief materials to people during natural calamities and started coordinating with CBO, CMO & Youth Clubs to restore Mother Nature. But, there is a lot to do which is possible if we all don’t join together.
So, I personally request you to join us in our conservation efforts. It is you, who, through coexistence, may assure the existence of human beings on this planet. Thanking you,
Rescue & Rehabilitation
Wildlife rehabilitation involves restoring an injured, sick, or orphaned animal to a state of health in which they can safely be released back into their natural habitat. To achieve this, the unique physical and psychological needs of each individual species must be met, and we at MWT are careful to ensure that all animals in our care receive exactly what they require to recover. So far, we have rescued and rehabilitated various snake species, lizards, and turtles. We have also worked to support birds, deer, blue bulls, pangolins, and leopards in need of treatment.
When MWT rescues an animal, they are transported to Dhanushadham Protection Forest (DPF), where they are tended to by an experienced veterinarian. After successful treatment, they are released into the nearest secure habitat from the site of their rescue.
Snake conservation and snake-bite mitigation
Through their natural behaviours, snakes perform a critical role within their ecosystem. But the loss of human life due to snake bites when they venture into people-centric settlements has driven affected communities to kill them, causing their habitat to lose a key component of its functionality. MWT rescues snakes from human-dominated areas and releases them back into their natural environment. We also conduct conservation workshops at local education centres, raising awareness among villagers about how to avoid and treat snake bites, imparting lifesaving knowledge and promoting human-snake co-existence. “If we want to save snakes, we need to save people dying from snake bites.” – Romulus Whitaker
Fresh water turtle conservation
Similarly, freshwater turtles tend to encounter conflict when they come across human populations. MWT is working with local communities on this issue, guiding them to release common species such as the Indian flap-shell turtle (lissemys punctata) into the nearest pond or wetland. With less common species such as the peacock soft shell turtle (nilssonia hurum), the tricarinate hill turtle (melanochelys tricarinata), and the Indian tent turtle (pangshura tentoria), we are present during rescue and release
DPF and the surrounding landscape is also a renowned birdwatching site, with over 100 different species easily observed with a good pair of binoculars. The forest also attracts dozens of migratory birds travelling thousands of miles in search of resources.
MWT has pushed in recent years to increase bird
conservation awareness and introduce a new
dimension of eco-tourism to the area by encouraging
birdwatchers to visit DPF. Today, twitchers from all
corners of the globe descend upon the forest to catch
a glimpse of its varied catalogue of avian animals –
another proud achievement of ours.
Pangolins are the most illegally traded animal on Earth. Over one million were illicitly removed from their natural environment or killed and unlawfully traded across the globe during the 2010s, culminating in a record seizure by Malaysian authorities weighing 30 tonnes in 2019. MWT collaborates with the communities residing in and around Parsa National Park (PNP), and in other areas that lie outside of established protected zones, with the aim of conserving and supporting pangolin populations. We were prime movers in a campaign that eventually led authorities to declare Chuchchekhola Community Forest and Situ Buffer Zone Community Forest as locally managed conservation areas for pangolins – the first of their kind in the world. Within these two areas and others alike, MWT identifies and assists vulnerable families at risk of turning to the illegal pangolin trade, helping them to establish an alternative livelihood. We also conduct workshops for communities and young people to raise awareness of the current plight of the pangolin, alongside establishing community anti-poaching units to stifle illegal hunters. MWT receives generous support from Zoological Society of London in pursuit of pangolin protection and conservation
Wild cat conservation
Community protected forest areas established by MWT have become a refuge for tigers seeking food and shelter. However, this brings them into conflict with human-populations, and intervention is needed to prevent possibly fatal conflict. To help potentially affected communities, we educate and inform locals and provide predator proof corrals to help defend their livestock, reducing agricultural disruption and promoting human-tiger co-existence.
As the climate crisis intensifies, the need for immediate action geared towards ecological restoration has become increasingly urgent. This necessity has motivated MWT to initiate a multitude of projects designed to restore areas of forest and wetland – both key habitat for a diverse set of species and excellent carbon sequesters – to more favourable conditions.
MWT’s flagship project is DPF – a denuded patch of forest in the Terai region of Nepal that we are restoring following years of harmful human activity. Lying near the East-West Highway, the area is a biodiversity hotspot; home to a host of mammalian species such as, chittal, sloth bear, striped hyena, and a common leopard breed, who use DPF to raise their young.
Declaration of protected area
In February 2013, the Nepalese Government gave DPF’s 360-hectare area ‘protected’ status, guarding it from the country’s notorious timber mafia and poachers. Not a single branch has been cut down since. MWT proudly performed a critical role in bringing this to pass and continues to work with the Department of Forestry, DPF authorities, and local communities to restore this land to health. Further success followed in May 2016, when the government declared DPF an ‘illicit felling and open grazing free forest.
Elsewhere, we are protecting and restoring the biologically rich Chure region of the Terai, a crucial habitat for a range of flora and fauna and a vital source of groundwater for the people of southern Nepal. Along the banks of the Chure river, MWT is undertaking a massive plantation programme to promote the growth of native plant species and to restore the once dense forest that has been greatly diminished. Our plantation programmes utilise pitting (filling pits with fertile soil), watering, fencing, weeding, and mulching.
DPF contains 18 hectares of wetland habitat, including the source of the Ban Ganga River. With financial support from numerous local and governmental organisations, 7.2 hectares of the historic Dhanush Dah (pond) has been restored following a two-decade long push.
Before we began our work at the site, the pond was profoundly damaged. Seasonal flooding sent its health into a sharp decline, and it was converted into barren land as a result, displacing its many inhabitants. MWT intervened, and Dhanush Dah is once again a haven for wetland birds, turtles, and numerous fish species.
Community in conservation
Involving local people in our work is a keystone principle of MWT. We strongly believe that these communities are vital in making our conservation efforts sustainable. Without them, none of what we have achieved so far would have been possible, and none of our endeavours can continue. Through our work, we create employment opportunities, also motivating and supporting these communities in taking agency over the ongoing conservation efforts happening in their area.
MWT runs various job-oriented programmes designed to develop workplace skills among participants. Much of this training is centred around indigenous knowledge, including our Mithila painting on Lokta paper workshops. Other practical skills we teach include creating handicrafts, wall painting, and sewing and cutting. We also coordinate with several social enterprises connected to shopping centres to collect and sell our market-driven products both online and in-store.
Good and accessible education is a cornerstone principle of a fair society. It improves quality of life, also fostering broader social benefits. In the marginalised communities of Madhesh Province, intervention is needed to ensure everyone can claim their right to an education – something we believe will have a positive transformative effect in the region. Education MWT is committed to working with students and their parents to reduce dropout rates, increase the number of girls attending school, and to minimize harmful child marriage.
Community stewardship programme
Nepal is a recognised pioneer of community-based conservation in the global community. MWT is proud of this and works tirelessly to uphold a peoplecentric approach to our work. We have implemented stewardship programmes through Community Forest Users’ Groups, and strongly believe that keeping locals engaged in environmental conservation will not only benefit nature, but also forge opportunities for them to thrive.
Much of the population of Madhesh Province (Nepal’s most populous region) residing in areas reliant on forests and their resources are overlooked and marginalised by policymakers, who deprive them of their basic human needs. This was profoundly evident throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, where inhabitants of southerly lying territories were unable to access even the most basic support – essentially hung out to dry. During this unprecedented period, with the support of numerous international organisations, MWT gathered and distributed relief to over 18,000 vulnerable families across 17 different districts.
As the climate crisis intensifies, the threat of more frequent and severe natural disasters is another troubling prospect. With the support of generous individuals and organisations, MWT is also on hand to provide relief when these calamities occur. We have also supplied food, blankets, warm clothes, mosquito nets, and utensils to those that require them, alongside arranging for jumpers and shoes to be sent to school children during Winter.
Eco-tourism is designed to unite travel, conservation, and communities. MWT proudly supports Explore Mithila, a locally run fusion of adventure, culture, tourism and science. Set up by Incredible Mithila, the event offers tourists a day in nature searching for hidden treasures of the ancient Mithila culture, connecting participants with its rich and diverse heritage. Other activities include hiking, bird watching, tree identification, wildlife watching and visits to local communities.
Attendees will get the opportunity to witness an enchanting performance incorporating traditional music and dance forms of ancient Maithili, Pahadi, Dalit, and Janajati communities, before being able to purchase indigenous products from local vendors.
Together for Conservation!
We Need Your Help!
Let’s join our hand together for betterment of mother nature.