It is a good time to look back at how Nepal has set an example in conservation through creating a favourable environment for wildlife. Nepal, having a natural ecosystem, extends from lowland Terai region to the high Himalayas, is a home to various floral and faunal species. The diverse topographic and climatic conditions have favoured a maximum diversity of flora and fauna in Nepal. Only 0.1 percent of the global area is occupied by the country, but it harbours about 3.2 percent and 1.1 percent of world’s known flora and fauna respectively. Nepal has established an efficient network of protected area systems with 12 National Parks, 1 Wildlife Reserve, 6 Conservation Areas, 1 Hunting Reserve and 13 Buffer zone ranging all over the country, covering 23.39 percent of the country’s total land.
Water and energy availability are the growing concerns for wildlife conservation. The sun has been the prime source of energy for all living beings since forever. The sun is the ultimate source of energy and its energy is being used directly and indirectly for assorted purposes. The alternative energy sources like diesel, petrol, fuel-wood, hydroelectricity and even our food originates indirectly from the sun. Unlike diesel, petrol, coal and other non-renewable energy sources, solar energy is renewable and inexhaustible. So, tapping solar energy is a logical and imperative course of action. The solar energy can be utilized to settle the drinking water crisis that has been enduring by wildlife in their habitat. The amount of water animals drink per day may vary according to their size. For example, Elephants require about 68.4 to 98.9 L of water daily, but may consume up to 152 L. An adult male elephant can even drink up to 212 L of water. Similarly tiger can drink up to 65 L to 70 L per day. The water requirement may increase for tigers living in a hot temperature region. The rhinoceros is dependent on water and will drink up to 72 L per day if the water is available. Solar Water Pumps proves to be the viable option to resolve the water crisis in the wildlife’s habitat.
Solar Water Pumps use electricity generated by Photovoltaic (PV) panels to pump out the water from reservoirs, wells or boreholes and fed directly onto fields or into a storage tank. Supplied water can then be used for irrigation, water livestock, household and drinking purpose. The Solar Water Pump can provide a more sustainable, clean and reliable source of water for the wildlife and also for the people living in the bordering communities. This reduces the carbon footprint and provides a more eco-friendly environment for wildlife. This could be the prominent technology for national parks and conservation areas that has no any major rivers within its boundaries and whose borders fail to include reliable year-round water sources. Poor rainfall can result in acute shortage of water in National Parks. Many water reserves have been drying due to wildfires that occurs annually in Nepal. The government and forest department can make use of Solar Pumps in an attempt to better the situation. Working 7-8 hours a day, a Solar Water Pump can refill a partially dried-up ponds and lakes while allowing the excess water to flow downstream. It pumps more water in sunny weather and slows down appropriately when it’s overcast or raining.
Solar Pumps have many pros over electrical pumps. Unlike electrical pumps, it doesn’t disturb the ecological and biological balance of the reserve. The energy comes straight from the sun, lowering its operational cost. Solar Water Pumps help in climate change mitigation by reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also avoids the emission of particulate matter, noise pollution, diesel leakage into water and cultivations, and travel to collect fuels. The additional supply of water drawn from beneath the ground’s surface simultaneously reduces the wandering of elephants, tigers, rhinos and other wildlife out of parks perimeters in search of water, a threat to human settlement and livestock likewise. Solar Water Pump provides reliable water during the dry season and in turn, keep the wildlife away from straying into local villages. However the only disadvantage of it is that they need sunlight to work. They won’t pump the water in the early morning or late evening as there is not enough sunlight. Although batteries can be used with pump when the sun is out, but it is usually not recommended as batteries are much expensive and have very short lifetime.
Solar Water Pump is a proven technology which consists of components like PV modules, pump and pump controller. Solar panels are usually installed 15 to 20 feet above the ground level and a trench is built around them. This is done to ensure that the solar panels will be safe and no animals will be harmed by these devices. Installation, operation and maintenance of Solar Water pumps are also simple and it could be stationed at Hilly and Terai regions of Nepal, where the level of water beneath the ground is high.
Modern technology has made Solar Water Pump much more affordable and the best solution for providing the water resources for both wildlife and the surrounding communities. In order to make the impressive progress in biodiversity conservation the government and the concerned authorities of Nepal should focus on implementing and subsidizing such concept.
Roshan Kumar Chhetri