Junior Ranger Education Program
Field Visit, Dunai, Nepal, November 2005
By Darla Hillard, Education Director, Snow Leopard Conservancy
And Nagendra Budhathoki, Education Consultant, Junior Ranger Program
The original schedule called for our arrival in Dunai a week earlier, but we were delayed due to a political
strike in Kathmandu, office closures, and unexpected complications in securing a special-area trekking
permit for Darla to visit Dunai. As a result our field visit coincided with the Tihar holidays, one of Nepal’s
most important festival times.
Mugu Program World Environment Day essay contest Gopal is especially proud
Update at Pina Primary that the JRP students
are serious, interested,
With the permit finally motivated, and hard-
secured, we flew from working. At first he’d
Kathmandu to thought they might not
Nepalgunj, where we be, since JRP is an
met with Gopal Bom, extra-curricular activity,
Mugu District with no grades or credit
Coordinator of the Junior for participating. The
Ranger Program (JRP). kids actually put JRP
In keeping with the homework before their
program’s appreciative, other subjects.
• The teacher’s overview needs
JRP Field Trip to Rara Lake to be translated into Nepali.
People from the remotest corners
of Mugu district have migrated
down to the administrative
headquarters of Gumgari to give A Junior Ranger’s journal can
their kids an education in the midst include everything from drawings to
of the political strife. There are poems to pressed flowers
120 kids in 6th grade.
Teachers are also learning;
our meetings followed a Forty-three Junior Ranger kids previously they had no formal
consistent format that included participate in field trips and after- environmental education
a review of recent activities; a school activities. In the past kids experience. This is something
discussion of results and would play hookey on Fridays, as Nagendra is proud of too, that
accomplishments of which the school week officially ends at the JRP curriculum encourages
participants are especially noon. But since the JRP has been instructors to learn with the kids.
proud; and any aspects of the running (on Friday afternoons),
kids are now attending for the Gopal also commented on what
program that need improvement.
whole day. can be improved:
We reviewed the Education Kit
provided earlier, which included • The original curriculum is
picture books, fact sheets, and Indicators of Success focused on Dolpa, but should be
activities. Gopal said: expanded to include Mugu, with
• The JRP has contributed to better a chapter about Rara National
school attendance overall. Park.
• The picture books are
especially helpful, but the • Students put JRP homework first.
• The JRP is only a one-year
teachers need more photos of • Students want the program to be curriculum; how to continue kids’
animals. extended beyond the present Class
Visit to Dunai, Lower Dolpa
Girls’ Feeder Hostel: The next thing about JRP was the
day we flew from Nepalgunj to chance to learn while
Juphal. Binod Dhakal, Dolpa teaching. She asked for more
District Coordinator of the JRP, data, such as information on
met us for the three-hour walk other Parks and Protected
to Dunai. We had lunch and Areas, photographs of
visited the Girls’ Feeder Hostel. animals, and information on
Here we were joined by Rabindra medicinal plants and herbs.
Shahi, JRP Assistant Coordinator.
After the meeting, we toured
The hostel is run by Pasang the dorms, JRP classroom,
Rana, a local of Dolpa, whose and kitchen. We discussed Darla, Nagendra, Binod & Rabindra
main job is teaching at Balmandir the inadequate funding for the (far left) with the teachers
Primary School. Pasang is an hostel, which receives a
active, committed teacher who government subsidy that barely The discussion hit most of the
requested that she be allowed covers food and the cook’s salary. points made by Gopal Bom and
to run the JRP in her hostel, The girls themselves maintain the Pasang Rana. They wanted
even though it is not in itself a 40-year-old building as best they photos of animals. They also
school. This government- can. They need especially to requested a snow leopard
supported hostel houses some replace the too-short kitchen distribution map (large,
15 girls attending Saraswati stove pipe that pumps smoke into laminated, with color).
Higher Secondary School. their dorm rooms above.
Indicators of Success
The girls served tea and cookies
before heading home for the
holidays. Some had a 5-hour walk
to reach their villages before dark.
Meeting with JRP teachers: some
Present were Nagendra, Binod, adults
Rabindra, Darla, and the following had
eight teachers from schools in and captured
near Dunai: Bishnu Lal Buddha, a Danphe
Laligurans Primary; Gorkha Bud- pheasant.
dha, Shree Saraswati HSS; Jaya As Danphe
Krishna Hamal, Sundre Sherpa meat is
Primary; Pasang Rana, Girls’ supposed to
Feeder Hostel; Tek Nath Rijal, be good for
Binod looks on as the girls and Principal of Bhakti Thapa Primary; health, the
Pasang Rana greet Darla with Himali Shah, Principal, Balmandir adults were
garlands of marigolds and sacred Primary; Nara Hari Sharma, Sundre about to kill
bundles of juniper. the bird . . .
Sherpa Primary; and Ganga
We were pleased that the Upadhaya, Principal, Shree
Principal of Laligurans Primary Saraswati HSS.
School (located up the steep hill . . . The boys insisted that
above Dunai), along with the In 2005 there were eighteen since the Danphe is Nepal’s
principal and a teacher of participating JRP schools, so ten national bird, it should be
Saraswati HSS took time to were unrepresented at this handed over to the authorities
attend this meeting. meeting: teachers from schools so it could be released into
within a one-two day walk of Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
The girls were very shy and Dunai had gone back due to our This incident was reported in
didn’t talk much, but Pasang late arrival. Others, whose homes WWF’s newsletter, specifically
Rana said that for her the best are outside Dolpa District, had left citing that the rescuers were
for the Tihar holidays. menbers of Dunai’s Junior
More Indicators of Success Dunai lies along the Bheri
River as seen below and far
Near a house in upper Dunai a left. Dunai Boarding School
small stream pours down from (far left) sits just below the
the steep hillside. A leopard cat red monastery, in this photo
came down there taken from upstream looking
and tried to catch back. At the school, the
a chicken. But Junior Rangers took turns
the cat was so talking about their
weak – and experiences.
that it couldn’t
even run away.
Ranger and two
other kids caught
it and took it to
the Warden. Un-
fortunately it died
before they found
out what was
wrong with it.
The Bhakti Thapa
Primary students are especially • It’s a new way of learning and as we were running late, and
good at drawing. Three quarters has changed our teaching style. the students were most anxious
through the school year these
• We never used to prepare for to go into the town for “Deusi,”
kids had already enthusiastically singing and dancing to raise
classes because it was just
used up all the pages in their money (like trick-or-treat in
repetition. Now we create lesson
journals. the US). They would donate
• Traditionally we attended part of the money to the JRP.
A boy at Laligurans Primary
admitted that he had killed 200 teacher trainings to get updates
on new methods, etc. But we They were most proud that their
birds before becoming a Junior new JRP knowledge gives them
Ranger. Now he has made a could never get access to any of
the new materials. JRP provides “back-power” to talk to others,
commitment never to kill another and to stand up to their elders in
bird, or carry a slingshot again. good quality materials and
stationery, so we can adequately a confrontation such as the
prepare lesson plans and classes. incident with the Danphe, which
We asked what the teachers not only broght them recognition
might consider Indicators of by WWF, but also a prize from
Success for themselves as Visit to Dunai Boarding Nepal’s Department of National
teachers. They replied: School Parks & Wildlife Conservation.
• New kids want to be in the In the afternoon we crossed the There was also a migrating duck
program, but we can accom- River and walked up the hill to that got captured. A policeman
modate only a limited number. meet with the Junior Rangers at standing by asked “why not eat
This makes the program very the Dunai Boarding School. We it?” The Junior Rangers explained
special. went quickly through the meeting, why, and saved the duck’s life.
On March 27, 2005 Junior Rangers Ramesh Roka, Rabin Sharma and Tilak Rokaya of Dunai Boarding
School, and Junior Ranger Man Prasad Budha of Saraswati High School rescued a daphe pheasant
(Nepal’s national bird) that had wandered into Dunai town and handed it over to the District Police
Office. Many thanks go to these four brothers for such a remarkable feat in wildlife conservation.
-WWF Publication 2005
Meeting with Ex-Junior Rangers
sightings are increasing. Tsering Lamu: JRP knowledge
According to Tsering relates to other subjects, i.e.,
Lamu, depredation is population and health.
not a huge problem for
Phoksundo and Suraj: JRP is one year, then
Pungmo, as the nothing. We need a follow-up
villages move entirely club or something. We need a
to the high pastures in network to share ideas and take
summer and guarding is the JRP wherever we go (as a
better. sort of alumni assn.)
We discussed why Akhanda: There are four JRP
they think snow schools in Dunai, but the kids
leopard sightings are don’t necessarily know each
increasing. They other. We also need a network
The kids say, “Once a Junior Ranger, always in Dunai after we finish the one-
a Junior Ranger.” - Nagendra Budhathoki year program.
because of the ban on
hunting since the park
was established, or that Tsering Lamu: We need to do
Eleven Ex-Junior Rangers more activities – involve as
attended this meeting, in the populations of prey animals are
increasing. We don’t have data to many local people as possible.
midst of their holiday. Half of
them have home villages that lie prove or disprove either theory.
The group agreed that they
within the habitat of Upper want to have a “moderator”
Dolpa’s snow leopards. Tsering Comments on the good things
who would be Park staff, WWF
Lamu (who will be attending the about the JRP:
or other community member –
Tribhuvan University Forestry not a teacher, as the
Institute in Pokhara), and Suraj: I was able to start a bird-
relationship is different. They
Tsewang Gurung have seen snow watching club at my university in
committed to initiate the new
leopards and they believe that Pokhara.
club by year end.
The best thing about the JRP was getting to know about the local environment, and the exposure to
- Chand Hamal, Ex-Junior Ranger
We would like to acknowledge and thank the CDO Lower Dolpa for strongly supporting environmental
education and nature conservation in the region, and likewise the Warden of Shey-Phoksundo National Park.
We are most grateful to Angad Hamal for hosting Darla’s stay at the Blue Sheep Lodge in Dunai; and to
Gangadhar Kandel for his kind hospitality at the Sangam Hotel during layovers in Nepalgunj. Without the
assistance of Niraj Shrestha of Himalayan Encounters and his staff we would not have received permission for
Darla to travel to Lower Dolpa. We are grateful, too, for the kind and helpful waiver of the agency fee for this
service. These generous contributions enable a greater portion of funding to go directly to the schools
participating in the Junior Ranger Program.
Darla extends special thanks to Nagendra for joining her on this field visit, and for the extraordinary step of
donating his 2004 consulting fee back into the Junior Ranger program.
We especially appreciate the fact that all the Junior Ranger teachers and kids took time from the festive and
fun filled Tihar holidays to come to the meetings. Thanks also to Binod and Rabindra for giving time to the visit
while rest of Nepal was celebrating, and likewise to Gopal who re-scheduled his Mugu trip numerous times in
order to meet us in Nepalgunj.
Please see Nurturing the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards in the Heart of Nepal’s Snow Leopard
Country, in the Education section of the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s website for background on the
Junior Ranger program and the political situation in Nepal.