The rhino which was on a rampage and had held the city of Hetauda hostage throughout the day on Monday, leaving one dead and seven injured, has returned to its original habitat at the Chitwan National Park (CNP) on Monday evening.
After being chased by authorities with the help of four elephants, two each from the CNP and Parsa Wildlife Reserve, the rhino made its way into the Reserve through Padampokhari and Chakrimakri of Handikhola. Park officials confirmed that the rhino was now inside the Park. “We found that the rhino made its way back to the Reserve when we went on a search patrol early Tuesday morning,” said District Forest Officer Rajendra Neupane. Rhinos are believed to tread back the same route.
Severely injured from the rhino attack, Harimaya Dahal, 61, died while undergoing treatment at Hetauda Hospital the same day. Among the seven injured, Rudra Narayan Dhimal, 80, is being treated at Bharatpur Hospital while the rest are undergoing treatment at Hetauda Hospital. The rhino also killed a cow and a buffalo in Hetauda -6. Neupane is said to have reached Dahal’s house to express his condolence.
The rhino that had initially been spotted on Sunday at Handikhola VDC had reached Pashupatinagar, Hetauda sub-metropolis-9 on Monday morning. The rhino had then made its way to Shikharpani, ward 18 of the sub-metropolis, through the Churiya Mai forests. On a wild charge, the rhino had then entered the premises of Hetauda Hospital through Rapti road from the main bazaar in Buddhachowk despite efforts from forest guards, Nepal Police and Nepal Army personnel to control the mammal.
Apparently, the same rhino nicknamed ‘Makwanpure’ had entered the eastern area of Chattiwan VDC after escaping from the CNP about 11 months ago. The forest guards and police had taken the rhino under control by tranquilising it. The rhino was then treated for injuries in the legs which it had sustained during the rescue attempt. The mammal was then kept at the lake in Harnamadi for about a week before being taken to its habitat in CNP.
Govt set to start census on Monday
The government is set to start rhino census on Monday in various protected areas and wildlife reserves in the country. The count, held every four years, will continue for around a month.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, with technical and financial support from the National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF Nepal, is conducting the count to monitor the status and distribution of endangered one-horned rhinoceros in the country.
According to Maheshwar Dhakal, an ecologist and spokesperson at Department, the rhino count will be carried out inside Chitwan National Park and adjoining forests and buffer-zone areas, the largest rhino habitats in the country, followed by other remaining habitats in Bardiya National Park and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. The last rhino count was held in 2011 that put the total number at 534, up from 435 in 2008. The Chitwan National Park recorded the highest number of rhinos at 503, followed by Bardiya National Park and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve at 24 and 7, respectively. “The count will involve participation of park staffers, technical experts and local communities,” Dhakal said, adding that around 50 elephants will also mobilised inside the protected areas. Around Rs 10 million is estimated to be spent for the census.
Unlike in tiger monitoring where camera trapping method is used and the result is based on sampling process, rhino census is based on headcount, a regular process being practised for decades. The staffers and experts involved in counting process ride elephants count the rhinos.
Nepal has emerged as a safe habitat for endangered wildlife species, including rhinos, as the country celebrated zero rhino poaching years in 2011 and 2013 respectively.