SMCRF successfully celebrated its 9th Annual General Meeting on 25th August 2018 marking the successful nine years in the research and conservation of small mammals.
The event was inaugurated by the Chief Guest, Dr. Maheswor Dhakal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu. Mr. Narayan Lamichhane, Secretary of SMCRF welcomed all the distinguished guests, members of SMCRF, CFUGs, university students, and journalists. Mr. Kaustuv Raj Neupane, host for the event, shared about the provision of Patron membership of Rs. 50,000. Dr. Baburam Dhakal, Data Manager at Department of Geography, University of Oxford, UK was proposed as “Research Fellow”. Mr. Sagar Dahal presented about the annual activities. Mr. Dahal highlighted the major organizational achievements and ongoing projects on small mammals research.
The main highlight of the event was the “Small Mammals Research Fellowship Award 2018”. Out of twenty applications for the small mammal focused research proposals, top two research proposals were awarded for the fellowship this year; 1) Status, distribution pattern and conservation threats of Pangolin (Manis spp.) in Kailali District, Farwestern, Nepal by Mr. Diragh Bahadur B.K. and 2) Ethnological study to assess bygone and current evidences of otters in Budhigandaki River by Ms. Arati Basnet. Mr. B.K. is student of M.Sc. Zoology at Central Department of Zoology, Kirtipur and Ms. Basnet is student of B.Sc. Forestry, Institute of Forest, Pokhara. The grantee were handed the fellowship amount of NPR 35,000.00 each through the Chief Guest. The next Small Mammals Research Fellowship will be opened on December 2018. The selected grantee will be awarded the fellowship on 8th World Pangolin Day in February 2019. SMCRF also released a digital book “Pikas of Nepal” which is believed to provide update on the taxonomic revision of pikas of Nepal at national level and in the IUCN Red List.
During the program, Dr. Shant Raj Jnawali, Chief of Party, USAID/WWF/Hariyo Ban Program,WWF Nepal, congratulated SMCRF for success in its projects especially the one based on functionally study of CHAL. Mr. Ram Chandra Kandel, Deputy Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, supported the idea of “Pangolin Rehabilitation adn Research Center” and expressed his commitment to provide his support for its development in Bhaktapur. Similarly, Mr. Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, Deputy Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, shared the limitations, security issues and related structural complexities of the department itself for the strictness to provide permissions for the research projects. He expressed his eagerness to be attached with the SMCRF which is an encouragement to the SMCRF team. “There is no value of research until the findings and information can’t reach the local people to self-motivate them for the conservation”, the chief guest Dr. Maheshwor Dhakal highlighted. Dr. Dhakal shared that SMCRF needs to make new framework, focus the study of small mammals in relation to climate change impacts and decentralize its works throughout Nepal. Prof. Dr. Tej Bahadur Thapa, Head of Department, Central Department of Zoology (CDZ), TU, shared that the CDZ is always ready for any kind of collaboration with SMCRF in order to contribute in the sector of research and conservation of wildlife. Mr. Kaustuv Neupane congratulated the team members of SMCRF for their success in completion of PhD (Dr. Arjun Thapa), the PhD scholars (Mrs. Sabina Koirala and Mr. Hem Bahadur Katuwal) and those who were flying abroad to start their PhD (Mrs. Tulshi Laxmi Suwal, Mr. Sanjan Thapa and Mr. Amar Kunwar).
As a closing remarks, Mrs. Tulshi Laxmi Suwal, president of SMCRF thanked the chief guests, distinguished guests, and all the participants in the event. Mrs. Suwal also thanked the members of SMCRF and all the volunteers for their altruist contribution in supporting SMCRF. The formal session ended with a group photo.