CNP trying to ascertain no. of rhinos affected by floodsThree weeks after the devastating floods affected human settlements and protected areas along the country’s southern plains, the Chitwan National Park (CNP) is still carrying out search operations fearing some one-horned rhinos might have died in the disaster.
Three weeks after the devastating floods affected human settlements and protected areas along the country’s southern plains, the Chitwan National Park (CNP) is still carrying out search operations fearing some one-horned rhinos might have died in the disaster.
Over 150 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of houses were destroyed in one of the worst water-induced disasters in many years in Tarai districts in the second week of August. According to Ram Chandra Kandel, chief conservation officer of the CNP, the park is carrying out search operations following eyewitnesses’ accounts that some rhinos were swept away.
The CNP is home to more than 600 one-horned rhinos.
“People have reported that they had seen at least six to seven rhinos being swept away from the [CNP] headquarters area in Kasara. We also found some rhino paw tracks. But we are yet to confirm whether these tracks were recent ones,” said Kandel.
Earlier, CNP officials had said a total of eight one-horned rhinos were directly affected by the floods. Of the eight rhinos, one was found dead in Nawalparasi whereas others were swept across the border into India. Later, those seven rhinos were rescued from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) and the adjoining areas in Bihar state of India.
“We brought seven rhinos back. But our search operation is on as the floods could have swept away more rhinos. Even if the wild animals are dead, we must find their bodies,” added Kandel.
Two rhinos that were swept away from Chitwan were found in Susta in August-end. The CNP has been working in coordination with Indian officials in the search mission. Kandel said the trans-boundary coordination has greatly helped the conservation and rescue mission.
“I also spoke with the principal secretary of Bihar state of India, who oversees the forest sector and other India officials and requested them to gather data on the wild animals that could have been swept away from Nepal into India,” said Kandel.
CNP officials fear some rhinos could have died in the floods and the carcasses might have been buried under the sludge.
“We cannot say how many rhinos were killed in the floods. We have to wait till our operation concludes or the next rhino census,” said Kandel. Nepal has made significant strides in rhino conservation in the last few years, with the number of the pachyderm, which was once reduced to around 100, rising to 645 in the last rhino census in 2015.
The CNP was hugely affected after waters from the Rapti and Narayani rivers gushed into the area.
In the first week of flooding, at least 15 spotted deer and one barking deer were found dead. Later, carcasses of 28 spotted deer were found floating near Sauraha. CNP officials say the park suffered a massive wildlife loss.