Rescuing Six Flood-Swept Rhinos Back Home

Rescuing Six Flood-Swept Rhinos Back Home


The recent lash of the monsoon rains this mid-August have wrecked havoc across Nepal and its southern neighbors. An estimated 16 million people have already been affected by the monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. In the Terai plains of the country, whole villages and settlements have drowned, with already 92,210 families displaced, and 141 recorded deaths (according to Nepal Red Cross as of August 24, 2017). Damage to livestock and property run into the millions, and although rescue and relief measures are rife, even at best such measures are never quite enough of the scale of the crisis.


Flooding scenes from the NTNC-BCC Office in Sauraha, Chitwan


But besides this irrevocable volume of toll and despair, no actual account for wildlife loss numbers as a consequence of the disaster has been even closely established. Despite the difficulty to estimate such numbers one thing is certain though, that with the fatal downpour having swept southern Nepal in its entirety, the damage caused to wildlife would have been surely as unforgiving. Unfortunately at present we can only be left to nothing more than 'wild guessing.'

In the context of Nepal's wildlife richness, southern Nepal is home to some of the country's most special and endangered species, like the: Bengal tiger, Greater one-horned rhinoceros, Asian wild elephant, Wild water buffalo, Gharial crocodile among many many more. With the country's longstanding commitment and its commendable track record in wildlife conservation, such disasters make for sadder times, especially for those conservation enthusiasts who work relentlessly to keep the wildlife momentum of Nepal sound. For instance, there are informal estimates that the numbers of deer species that have died from the floods have already run into the thousands.


A three-month old  rhino calf rescued from Triveni Area in Nepal on August 26, 2017


The rescued calf caught in the flooding is now at the intensive care at NTNC-BCC's animal care holding


Yet despite this thought for misery, there is also happier news. Making for an incredible example of transboundary cooperation between Nepal and India, five of Nepal's greater one-horned rhinoceros have been successfully rescued to-date from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India and released to their original home in the Chtiwan National Park (CNP)—Nepal's largest habitat of rhinos. Besides this, another male rhino calf was also rescued from within the Nepalese territory, in the Triveni area of CNP. Out of the total rescued, four are female rhinos (3 adults and 1 calf) and two are male calves.


Drug preparation before rhino darting at the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India


Physical examination of sedated rhino at Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India


A truck with a special wooden cage-like structure was built specifically for the operation before travelling about 150 kilometers from the park to reach the settlements in India. Undergoing several tense hours, the Nepali team had to tranquilize the rhinos with darts,  and conduct  necessary treatment of the injured rhinos before releasing them into their home. Rescue and release operations in a sense is very similar to the work performed in wildlife species translocation—A very sensitive undertaking.


A tractor pulls the tranquilized rhino  towards the transport truck


Rescued rhino being loaded on the  truck before being taken home to Nepal


The rescue and release operation that continues to be pursued by CNP, the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and other local conservation partners in close coordination with the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India is nothing short of a landmark case for wildlife solidarity and nonpartisanship on the part of both Nepal and its neighboring fellow wildlife guardians. With many more wildlife species expected to have undergone a similar fate, such a spirit of passion beckons better hope for Nepal's wild caught under the floods.


Rescued rhino inside container before release in Chitwan National Park (CNP)


Rescued rhino trying to come out of the release container


Released rhino heading to its original home in the wild  in Chitwan National Park





[Photo Credit: Mr. Santosh Bhattarai, NTNC]


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