Born on May 5, 1974 from Mother Pushpa Khanal and father Krishna Prasad Khanal, Pradeep Khanal was just like any other kid of his age in his hometown of Kerunga in Arghakhanchi district. His daily routine included chores like collecting firewood, graze horses, cows and bulls and play with friends in nearby forests. He and his friends would frequently encounter leopard, jackal, monkey, rabbit, pheasant, and other wildlife. What set him apart from his peers is his interest and love to these wildlife. While his peer would often try to harm wild animals he would urge them to refrain from such activities and express his deepest affection towards those animals.
Pradeep’s parents sent him to Kathmanduin pursuit of better education after he completed his third grade in his village where he completed his school leaving certificate from Bhanubhakta Memorial Secondary School, Panipokhari. One thing that Pradeep missed much in capital is the time he spent in the nature. Therefore whenever he would go back to his village on school breaks he would spent much of his time in the forest and pastures unlike his parent’s wishes that he spend more time talking to them and be around the house.
With such love for nature, it wasn’t a difficult decision for Pradeep to pursue a dual degree in Biology &Environmental Science when it was offered by Kathmandu University for the first time in Nepal. He completed his Masters in Environmental Science from Kathmandu University in 2003 and currently pursuing PhD in conservation biology from University of North Texas in USA.
Before moving to USA for his further studies, Pradeep had a very successful career of more than 12 years serving in the field of wildlife conservation. Through his dedication and excellence in his work he has established himself as one of the finest young conservationist in the country. His contribution to conservation of the last remaining population of Blackbuck in Nepal is monumental. His research findings and publications on blackbuck led to declaration of new conservation area and translocation potential in Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in Nepal to establish a second population as an insurance for their long term survival in case of a disease outbreak or similar natural catastrophe in future. Furthermore, Mr. Khanal’s publications on tiger research ushered in a new era of tiger monitoring based on highly technical field work and survey, monitoring, and data collection & analysis methodology.
His work has not only benefited Tiger and Blackbuck conservation at national, regional and international level but the local communities living around the national parks have benefitted equally. He worked to build capacity of the buffer zone communities and helped them initiate various income generating activities like ecotourism. These incentives to local communities have been instrumental in reducing human-wildlife conflict and helping local communities living in harmony with nature.
Mr. Khanal, during his career in Nepal also trained more than 3000 government staff, law enforcement team based in national parks and local youths in various techniques of wildlife monitoring, SMART patrol and human wildlife conflict management.
Pradeep’s work and approaches have resulted ground breaking world class conservation successes well known by wildlife conservation communities throughout the world. A nationwide survey of tigershave showed that there are 198 tigers in wild in 2013, a 63% rise from 2009 baseline. Similarly the rhino population have increased by 21% and the blackbuck numbers increased to 300 individuals in 2015 from 48 individual in 2000.
Mr. Khanal told us that if conservation effort for tiger continues like this Nepal will successfully double its number of tiger before target year of 2022. But he also warned that the gains are fragile and a step back on the current effort can wipe all the gains within a year. He emphasized that conservation is very challenging work and need a sustained effort from all concerned from the highest level of the government to the local communities who shares their land with the wildlife.
As a recognition to Mr. Khanal’s work and his expertise he was invited to serve as a national core expert member for Tiger, Blackbuck, one horned rhinoceros and other wild animal found in Terai Arc Landscape of Nepal. Mr. Khanal has presented and published his work in different national and international platforms. He also had opportunities to present his work in the field to various dignitaries and celebrities like First president of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and Oscar winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Pradeep have fond memories of these interactions. Mr. Khanal has also received various awards and letter of appreciations from different institutions including the government of Nepal, NGOs and INGOs.
Pradeep says he can’t imagine a future where he won’t be working in the conservation field. He wants to make contribution to the global conservation community that will help us leave a better planet with clean air, water, enough food and plenty of wildlife for the future generations.
Mr. Khanal during crocodile and dolphin survey along karnali River
Mr Khanal with his team during the capture of Tiger for Satelliate color
Mr Khanal is expert in conservation tool training, above he trained population estimation techniques community people at Chitwan national Park, Nepal