KATHMANDU, July 4: The Government of Nepal is all set to gift two pairs of rhinos to China. If things go as planned, two rhinos- Bhadra and Rupasi- will be flown to the northern neighbor on July 12 while the other two will be sent to China in the next fiscal year. The four rhinos are kept in separate pits at the eastern sector office of Chitwan National Park (CNP) in Sauraha since the last two months.
According to Bed Kumar Dhakal, chief conservation officer of CNP, the rhinos undergo regular health check-ups from a team of veterinary doctors from China and doctors from the national park. Wildlife technicians from the national park have been deployed to look after the rhinos. Two men serve each rhino, Dhakal informed.
While Binod Darai is in-charge of Bhadra, Deep Prasad Chaudhary take care of Rupsi. They both have similar daily routine regarding the welfare of the rhinos. They feed the rhinos, oversee their daily activities, and also bathe them.
“I feed him and clean his pit,” Darai said adding, “I make sure that the pit is well maintained.” Darai has been working as a wildlife technician in the national park for the past eight years.The rhinos are fed milk twice a day – in the morning and evening. The park officials mix powder milk in 20 liters of milk which the rhinos consume daily. Along with milk, they are fed two cabbages, two carrots, two apples and eight bananas in the morning and afternoon. Grass is given at an interval of two hours. Three men are responsible for cutting grass for the rhinos that are to be sent to China.
“The rhinos don't really drink water. They only drink water twice a day and consume up to two liters,”Darai said. According to Darai, it had been difficult for him to control Bhadra in the first two weeks since it was kept in the pit.
“He used to get angry and try to attack humans who stood in front of him,” Darai said, adding that it was initially impossible for him go into the pit and feed the rhino.
The same goes for Chaudhary. Rupasi used to be violent. “The first week was difficult,” Chaudhary said. Gradually, she was tamed and trained to do as she was told. “Now, it's easier to control her,” he added.
The rhinos to be sent are aged between nine months to two years. They will be flown only after they become fit to be flown without any risks. The rhinos are being trained to eat what is given to them by humans, and are being habituated to live in an environment different from natural forests by being kept in small, congested pits.
The government had decided to send two pairs of rhinos to China in July, 2016 after which the arrangements were made. As per the count of Rhinos done three years ago, among the 345 rhinos in Nepal, 305 were found in Chitwan National Park and neighboring forests.