A first of its kind wildlife hospital in the country has formally come into operation from Friday, December 11. Citing the landmark occasion an inauguration event by the Secretary of Ministry of Forests and Environment Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli was undertaken at Sauraha, Chitwan, where the new facility is located.
The hospital has been the outcome of long years since its construction first started in 2015. Addressing the inauguration event organized among various conservation and community stakeholders Dr. Oli stressed about the impetus of a dedicated wildlife hospital in furthering Nepal's overall wildlife conservation profile, saying that more than ever there was a need for developing wildlife health, wellbeing and safety standards, including building national capacity for disease surveillance and applied wildlife research.
Other speakers at the event included the NTNC Member Secretary & Executive Director Dr. Siddhartha Bajra Bajracharya, Acting Director General of DNPWC Mr. Bed Kumar Dhakal, Mayor of Ratnanagar Municipality Mr. Narayan Ban, Buffer Zone Management Committee Chairperson Mr. Prakash Dhungana, CNP Warden Mr. Ananath Baral and NTNC-BCC Project Chief Dr. Babu Ram Lammichhane.
Comprising of a two-storey building, the hospital has eight rooms with OPD facility, lab, operation theatre, administration, dispensary, staff room and a meeting room. It is equipped with a portable X-ray machine, ultrasound machine, automated haematology analyser for blood testing, automated biochemistry analyser machine, lab-based microscopes among other equipment. The operation theatre is equipped with multiparameter patient monitoring system and gaseous anaesthesia, services that are necessary for effectively diagnosing and treating wildlife.
The hospital will support injured and diseased wildlife not only from Chitwan but across the country. Whereas previously wildlife treatment was based on external observations only, the new equipment will enable detailed diagnostics of the diseased and injured wildlife, opening a new arena for wildlife research, especially disease diagnostics.
Across the country, cases of injured or problem causing large mammals like elephants, rhinos, tigers and leopards are estimated to be on the rise with their growing population and limited habitat. Veterinarians and wildlife technicians from CNP and NTNC-BCC are often required to take to the frontlines of animal management and rescue operations from across Nepal, provide quarantine and treatment services to the injured, orphaned, sick and the diseased, including problem animals. Episodes often range from causes arising from natural injury, human-wildlife conflict induced incidents, territorial fighting, wildlife-vehicle collisions at highways and roads, to the less understood, but growing cause for concern, of potential wildlife disease threats, including threats from zoonotic diseases. In this sense the hospital is expected to serve as a center for those injured/diseased wildlife while also acting as knowledge hub for understanding wildlife diseases and enhancing research capacity.
Built at a budget of little over NPR 30.90 million, the Government of Nepal and NTNC have provided primary funding, together with Danver Zoo (Kaite Adamson Conservation Fund), WWF Nepal and Wildlife Veterinarians International. Going forward the hospital will be jointly operated by Chitwan National Park and NTNC-BCC where already human resources provision for dedicated veterinary personnel and wildlife technicians have been made. A Wildlife Hospital Management Operations Procedures has been prepared to this effect.
Expressing his thanks to all concerned stakeholders, NTNC's Member Secretary & Executive Director Dr. Bajracharya noted that as a first-of-a-kind capacity under implementation in Nepal, broad support from government to community to local authorities and independent institutions and researchers was quintessential for it to truly convert into a national-level asset of the highest standard.