KATHMANDU — On the evening of March 27, as residents of the settlement of Kusum Khola, on the fringes of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, were preparing dinner, they heard footsteps crunch past fallen leaves, disturbing the quiet of the night.
As the footsteps drew closer, the residents realized they were under attack — not by the park’s world-famous rhinos or tigers, but by officials from the park, backed by soldiers. The officers ordered the people to vacate the area and set fire to their huts. The reason? Their community was encroaching on land belonging to the park.