Earlier this year, board members Hans de Iongh and Laura Bertola visited two projects in Nepal which are being supported by the Leo Foundation. The first part of the trip brought us to Chitwan National Park, a protected area in the lowlands of the Terai. This area used to be a famous hunting ground for the royal family of Nepal, but in the early 70s it became a National Park. Of course, hunting of tigers is now strictly prohibited.
Our local partner, the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) has a field station in Sauraha, just outside the boundaries of the park. The field station is run by Dr. Babu Ram, who was supported by the Leo Foundation and the Himalayan Tiger Foundation to obtain his PhD degree from Antwerp and Leiden University. Leo Foundation still supports ongoing research on tigers, especially ‘problem tigers’, that leave the protected area and get into conflict with people in the local villages.
For the second part of our trip, we visited Koshi Thapu, a Wildlife Reserve in the eastern tip of the country. Here, Leo Foundation supports the research by PhD candidate Rama Mishra, who studies fishing cat. There’s little known about this elusive species of cat, but they often get into conflict too, by hunting in the fishing ponds of local farmers.
Finally, we visited Kathmandu University, where we participated in a symposium for students. Prof. Subodh Upadhyaya, who initiated the symposium, was also supported by the Leo Foundation and the Himalayan Tiger Foundation for obtaining his PhD degree at Leiden University.
We are happy to have these valuable contacts and ongoing collaborations, and they show that our support really makes an impact locally.