MAHENDRANAGAR, Sept 8: The government has allocated 10 elephants for Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR) but it has only seven elephants at present.
As a result, the reserve has been facing difficulty in regular patrolling and other works.
The SWR faces problem during wildlife census and other emergency time, said a veterinary doctor Karna Bahadur Bam.
Among the seven elephants of the reserve, four female are Sharada Kali, Surti Kali, Rup Kali and Ratan Kali and three male elephants include Siddha Prasad, Laba Prasad and Narayan Prasad, according to the SWR administration.
Out of the seven, six elephants except Naraya Prasad were transferred to SWR from Chitawan National Park. Among them, Sharada Kali is blind and Ratan Kali has become too old.
The reserve is also facing shortage of mahouts. An elephant needs at least three mahouts, says chief conservation officer at the reserve Bed Kumar Dhakal. “But the reserve has only one mahout for each elephant.”
The reserve has to rely on elephants to carry out regular patrolling of the protected areas in rainy season, according to Dhakal.
Further, the reserve has not been able to operate elephant safari. The reserve had launched safari scheme a few years back but the scheme has not been able to attract tourists, the reserve administration said, adding that some 10 tourists have visited the reserve for elephant safari.
“The reserve could not publicize the scheme,” Dhakal said. The fee for elephant tour is fixed at Rs 500 per hour for Nepali tourists. The reserve charge Rs 1500 for tourists from SAARC countries and Rs 2500 for tourists from other countries.
“We are preparing to launch a new scheme that allows adventurous tourists to ride elephant over suspension bridge,” Dhakal informed. “This scheme is expected to attract more tourists to the reserve.”
Tourists can enjoy green pasture, hattisar (elephant ride) to Gadarghat, the Bai River, Machan Ghat and other areas of the reserve, Dhakal said.