CHITWAN, August 10: A one-horned rhino was found dead nearby Meghauli Serai Hotel at UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chitwan National Park (CNP) on Monday morning. Locals suspect possible electrocution as the cause of death.
“Though the death reportedly took place in the morning, we were informed about the incident only in the evening,” said Shyam Adhikari, chairman of Meghauli Buffer Zone Consumer Committee of the CNP.
Locals have blamed negligence on the part of the Meghauli Serai Hotel, which is operated by Chaudhary Group, for the death. They said the hotel had set up live wire fence for construction purpose, but forgot to turn electricity off it after the work was completed, leading to the unfortunate incident.
Nurendra Aryal, information officer and assistant conservation officer at CNP said they are not in position to say what caused the death. “Preliminary investigation does not point out electrocution as the cause of the death. Hence, we cannot say for certain what caused the death until we receive a post-mortem report,” he said, adding that the report would come in two days.
According to him, the park has taken five employees of the hotel and a few locals in custody for interrogation. The investigation into the incident is underway, he informed.
Despite increased surveillance and tight security, the endangered rhinos inside the CNP seem far from safe. One-horned rhinos are poached for their horns, which fetch huge prices in the international market. Although there has not been any report of poaching of late, the park has reported several rhino deaths either due to either accidents or natural causes.
As per the country's current provision, those found guilty of killing rhinos could be slapped fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000 or jail terms of five to 15 years, or both.
CNP has the highest number of one-horned rhinos in the country. Thousands of tourists from all around the world throng into the park to observe the endangered one-horned rhinos.