In a final bid of farewell to two of Nepal’s flagship greater one-horned rhinoceros, the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli officially handed over the prized gifts, along with the related CITES certified documents, to Her Excellency Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Ms. Yu Hong. The occasion was marked with a special event at the NTNC Central Office premises, and was chaired by the Hon. Minister for Forests and Environment (MOFE) and NTNC Chairman Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet. Other guests of honour at the event included Mr. Agni Prasad Sapkota, the former Minister for Forests and current Member of Parliament, Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli, Member of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli, MOFE Secretary amidst other representatives from conservation institutions.
The handover event comes following the decision made by the erstwhile Government of Nepal (GoN) in July 10, 2016 to donate two pairs of one-horned rhinos to the People’s Republic of China. To this effect, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on April 2017 between the then Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (now Ministry of Forests and Environment, Nepal) and the State Forestry Administration (now National Forestry and Grassland Administration, China).
The first pair, whose names are 'Bhadra' and 'Rupasi' meaning Gentle and Beautiful, come as a special gift, as a symbol of the enduring and everlasting friendship between the Government of the two countries and its peoples. As the Prime Minister expressed it as “the beginning of a deeper relationship between not just its peoples but also between each other’s biodiversity and living beings,” he spoke of the great opportunity to engage each other’s countries in matters that are of crucial significance today: nature for wildlife and science for citizens. Keeping with its commitment, a second rhino pair is also in preparation to fly for China very soon. The overall handling of the operation is being undertaken by the GoN’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) which is the leading authority for National Park management and wildlife conservation in Nepal.
‘Bhadra’ and ‘Rupasi’ are aged each between one-and-a-half, and two years, and weigh approximately between 900 and 1200 kilos. Prior to the handover event on June 12, 2018, they were kept under the responsibility of the Chitwan National Park (CNP) authorities at NTNC’s Biodiversity Conservation Centre (NTNC-BCC) Office in Sauraha for over two months. A pit booma each was built specifically for this so that close care and observance could be maintained. Veterinary and technicians from both DNPWC and NTNC who were tasked specifically for their upkeep are presently accompanying the rhino pair to help with caretaking and health-related duties in China. Subsequently habitat and climate studies were also undertaken by specialists from both the countries.
DNPWC and NTNC have a long record of successful translocation of rhinos both in-country and internationally. To-date, all of the 26 rhinos donated to other countries have continued to be from the Chitwan National Park area, home to the second largest population (over 600) of the greater one-horned rhinoceros in the world.
After the 3000 kilometre flight from Kathmandu to Guangzhou, the rhinos find themselves in a new home, from the rich forests of Chitwan National Park in Nepal to the Chimelong Safari Park – also the largest ecozone in China, where some 500 species and 20,000 animals reside. In a positive message for promoting wildlife conservation and education as well as people-to-people collaborations, both the Hon. Minister for Forests and Environment as well as H.E. Ambassador of China expressed of the occasion as a truly auspicious opportunity to engage and connect more with each other’s citizens, our conservation sciences and strengths in the future days.