BARDIYA, June 22: Bardiya National Park where five rhinos had been transferred from Chitwan National Park three months ago has been blessed with a new baby rhino. While celebration is underway in the National Park, the officials are concerned over proper care and food for the new born and its mother. According to them, taking care of a nursing rhino and baby is a sensitive matter and arrangement of 'favorite' rhino fodder has been done for the special members.
“One among the five rhinos brought from Chitwan has reproduced. It's indeed great news,” said Ramesh Thapa, Chief Conservation Officer at the National Park. “We are committed for providing proper care to the mother and its baby,” he said.
Thapa informed that special fodder and grass have been arranged for the mother and the baby. “A special type of fodder, which is quite liked by rhino, is provided to mother. We had made such arrangements beforehand as we were aware of her pregnancy, when she was brought here from Chitwan National Park,” Thapa stated.
Due to poor record of rhino conservation at the National Park, the transfers of rhino from Chitwan to Baridya had drawn utter criticism. However, even one after other reports published in mainstream media against the government decision to transfer the rhinos had also not been able to influence the decision. Officials at Chitwan National Park had expressed deeper concern for the pregnant rhino. Many had questioned of its health care after it is transferred.
The new born was seen on May 22 by its mother side. According to officials it gave natural birth without needing any kind of medical intervention from the national park's authorities. The mother and baby are now residing around the Guthi Post, Babai area of the national park.
“There's a reason why it's living in that particular area. We have planted the special plant it loves to eat. Along with that, we have placed two trucks of her favorite fodder near her,” Thapa informed.
The special type of plant loved by rhino is not easily available. Particularly, in Babai area, it does not grow, according to Thapa. “It has to be arranged from somewhere else. We made special or artificial arrangement for this time. We have to think about it for next time,” he said.
Thapa further said that the plant is however found in plenty amount in the southern part of national park, where keeping rhinos is not safe. While 83 rhinos had been transferred to Bardiya National Park in the last few years, many had died in short period of the transfer. Twenty nine rhinos were found dead in the southern part of the national park- a part of the national park that Thapa said has the some stretches of Trewia nudiflora grass, locally known as Bhellar. “So, we could not afford to keep the nursing rhino and baby there, but arranged to plant saplings of the grass in the Babai area,” said Thapa.
Babai area is also not considered very safe for rhinos, however. Many rhinos which were left in Babai earlier had also succumbed to poaching. Thapa however claimed that the security management is far better now. “Security situation in the national park is not what it was earlier. We have improved it very much which includes special security arrangement in the Babai area.” he said.
Thapa stated that there was lack of enough check posts in the area in the past. There was no single check post in the distance of 46 kilometers. “There was no provision of vigilance around 46 kilometers of area. That made it easy for the poachers to hunt animals in the national park. We have beefed up security around the national park, including more check posts that are manned by the Nepalese Army personnel,” he said adding that a total of nine check posts have been added around the national park.
Elaborating on the provisions made for ensuring a secure and healthier environment for the rhinos, Thapa said that around 600 hector of grass land around the Babai area is preserved for the rhinos. Similarly, the area has 12 lakes and various water pools.
“One of the significant improvements is the increasing level of awareness among the locals for preserving rhinos. They are now more conscious about the need for preserving rhinos,” he informed adding that this and updated tracking equipments has aided the security forces to keep vigil on the rhinos at the national park.
The national park uses satellite monitoring to track the rhinos. Thapa said that Bardiya National Park would leave no stone unturned for safety and security of the transferred and other rhinos.
A nursing mother rhino is seen in Trewia nudiflora grass field near the Babai area of Bardiya National Park along with her March 22 born baby in this recent picture.