Protecting Pangolins in Nepal
By Cidee Despi
Discover the remarkable work of Prativa Kaspal, a passionate conservationist from Nepal. Her project focuses on preserving the critically endangered Chinese and Indian pangolins, which are facing severe threats due to overhunting and habitat loss. Through her dedication and participation in the CoalitionWILD EXCELerator program, Prativa is making a significant impact on pangolin conservation while inspiring others to join the cause.
Prativa Kaspal’s journey in conservation began when personal circumstances confined her to her home in 2006. Determined to contribute in any way she could, Prativa surveyed the forest near her village and stumbled upon a slaughtered pangolin. This encounter sparked a deep connection with the species, and later, Prativa had the opportunity to rehabilitate a baby pangolin. Her affection for these unique creatures grew, fueling her passion and resolve to protect them.
The Project’s Purpose
The project led by Prativa Kaspal aims to assess the habitat resilience and conservation threats faced by two pangolin species in Nepal. The project consists of three fundamental components. First, through transect surveys, Prativa and her team are mapping pangolin distribution to gain a better understanding of their habitat requirements and range. This valuable data will inform the development of effective conservation strategies.
The second component involves producing educational materials that raise awareness among local communities, teachers, students, and government and enforcement agencies. By enhancing ecological understanding and promoting responsible practices, Prativa aims to inspire a sense of ownership and foster conservation efforts from the ground up.
Lastly, the project will generate habitat and ecological network data models to analyze habitat connectivity changes at different spatial scales. This pioneering approach will provide critical insights into the connectivity of pangolin habitats in Nepal, enabling targeted conservation actions.
The Impact of Capacity-Building Programs
Prativa’s participation in the CoalitionWILD EXCELerator program has been transformative both personally and for her project. The program has equipped her with essential skills, including storytelling, developing pitches, and budgeting, allowing her to present her work more effectively and attract funding opportunities.
As a PhD candidate, Prativa highlights the limited practical training opportunities available in her country. The EXCELerator program provided her with a platform to interact with like-minded individuals, mentors, and international peers, expanding her network and fostering collaborations. These connections have proven invaluable in refining her proposals and furthering her conservation programs.
The Importance of Capacity-Building for Youth
Capacity-building programs play a crucial role in empowering youth in less developed countries like Nepal. Prativa emphasizes that practical training and exposure to Western conservation practices are limited. Programs such as the EXCELerator provide the opportunity for young conservationists to develop essential skills, broaden their capabilities, and make a positive impact in their communities.
By participating in capacity-building programs, Prativa believes that youth can become well-rounded individuals, better equipped to tackle environmental challenges. The knowledge and expertise gained empower them to become effective contributors to conservation efforts.
Future Aspirations and Impact
Prativa’s achievements and learnings from capacity-building programs have instilled hope in her pursuit of pangolin conservation. With the guidance of mentors and international peers, Prativa aspires to secure more funding and expand her conservation programs to generate a lasting impact. Her goal is to fulfill her own PhD while benefitting the local communities directly involved in her project.
Even though the capacity-building programs have ended, Prativa is committed to sharing her knowledge and expertise. As a teaching assistant and teacher, she actively shares her experiences with students and colleagues, encouraging them to participate in similar programs. Prativa’s dedication to networking and spreading the word about the EXCELerator program allows her to continue inspiring and mentoring others, contributing to the growth of the conservation community.
Prativa Kaspal’s unwavering dedication to pangolin conservation in Nepal serves as an inspiration to aspiring conservationists worldwide. Through her project and participation in capacity-building programs, she not only protects endangered species but also empowers youth to become change-makers in their communities. Prativa’s work exemplifies the positive impact that individuals can make with passion and the right support.