Researching rodents in Nepal

Hello all

It’s been a LONG time since I wrote a blog post. Things like work get in the way, unfortunately. If only I was a millionaire…but that’s rather unlikely (also unfortunately). That brings me nicely to the point of this blog post. As I’m not a millionaire, I need to raise some money so that I can go back to Nepal early next year and do some rodent research.

Rodent research, I hear you ask, what on earth are you talking about? Well, there is a serious lack of baseline information on the role of rodents in disease outbreaks, such as scrub typhus and leptospirosis. This means that people die unnecessarily, because not enough is understood about how these diseases are spread. Rodents pollute water courses with their faeces and urine, spoil crops in the same way, eat or otherwise destroy crops, and carry parasites on their fur. We need to understand all these things to enable people to cope with, or to prevent, these issues.

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So, in January I will be going back to Nepal to work on a rodent survey, learning, among other things, which species live in urban and rural settings, which diseases they may spread to humans, either directly or through parasites they carry, and how they may affect food security through spoiling and eating crops. This knowledge will help people to deal with the effects of rodents in their lives.

I’ll be working with a brilliant Nepali NGO called the Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF). This organisation was started and is run by a group of young Nepali professionals, from a small office in Kathmandu. They are a seriously inspiring bunch of people.

I will be supporting myself financially; both in the UK (mortgage and bills) and in Nepal (flights, accommodation, food, travel etc) and so ALL money raised will go toward equipment and other project expenses.

If you are interested in helping to fund this crucial work, then please do visit my fundraising page here: https://www.gofundme.com/ratsnepal. And I will love you forever 🙂 xxx

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The long wait is over: Nepal has a constitution

I was staying in Pokhara, Nepal in April 2006 when King Gyanendra restored the parliament. I remember waking up in my hotel, going outside onto the lawn and looking at the newspaper headline. I couldn’t believe it. This country that I had just discovered and fallen in love with was going through some massive changes, culminating in the abolition of the monarchy in May 2008. Gyanendra became just another Nepali, his palace in Kathmandu became a museum. An amazing thing to see first hand.

Rickshaw in Kathmandu, Nepal

Rickshaw in Kathmandu, Nepal

The big news is that, as of yesterday, Nepal has a new constitution, something that politicians have been working on, fighting over and finally agreeing for the last seven years. Selfishly I wish it had happened two weeks ago, when I was still in Kathmandu. Having been there during the civil war, the restoration of parliament, witnessing the infighting, the king going, I would have loved to have been there at the end. Although this is most probably not the end. One thing that became clear in my visit earlier this month was that some sections of the Nepali people are not happy. Some of the diverse ethnic groups who live in Nepal want the country to be divided further, along ethnic lines, and are not content with the new seven-state system that has been agreed. The south of the country has been seriously affected by strikes for the last few months. However, other groups are ecstatic at the news, and the further good news is that the three main political parties are in agreement, suggesting that this move forward has the support of a large percentage of the ordinary Nepalis who voted for these politicians. And from what friends were telling me over there, most people just wanted it all sorted out and signed.

Sunset in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Sunset in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

So what does this mean for ordinary Nepalis, who had to get on with their day to day lives while the politicians argued? Well, hopefully it means that, now the politicians have agreed the constitution, they can get on with other equally important discussions and start to improve the infrastructure of the country. This can only be good news for all the travel agents, hotels, restaurants and shops who have been suffering as a result of the earthquake. The country has picked itself up, dusted itself off, signed a very important piece of paper, and now can get on with the hard work of making it all mean something.

All photos by me.