Government delays sending team to China for rhino habitat observation

Kathmandu, September 1

Although the State Forestry Administration of China had invited a Nepali team to observe rhino habitats in Shanghai, Hangzhou and nearby areas from August 15 to 21, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has yet to finalise the team.

As per the August 15 decision of the forest ministry, a three member team has already been authorised to observe the rhino habitat in national parks in Shanghai, Hangzhou and nearby areas. The team includes Ramchandra Kandel, chief conservation officer at Chitwan National Park; Kamal Gaire, senior vet at CNP; and a customs-based officer of the finance ministry.

Under-secretary at Foreign Aid Coordination Division of the ministry, Ishwori Paudel, said the ministry was preparing to set up another three-member team comprising officials from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and other stakeholder agencies to send with the already formed team.

“The ministry is preparing to send the two teams at once,” he said, adding, “Most probably the Nepali team may visit China by the first week of September.”

The government had begun the process of gifting two pairs of endangered one-horned rhinoceros a month ago, nearly a month after the Cabinet took a decision to this effect. The Cabinet had decided to gift two pairs of one-horned rhinoceros to China on July 10.

Similarly, a vet from the CNP will also take part in the visit and gather information regarding animal health and customs based authorities to assist in matters of customs during the gifting of rhinos to China.

According to the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, four rhinoceros would be picked from Chitwan National Park to be gifted to China.

As per the 2015 census, there are a total of 645 rhinos in Nepal. Of them, 605 are in Chitwan National Park alone.

During the China visit of former forest minister Agni Sapkota in January, then prime minister KP Sharma Oli had issued instructions to forward the process of gifting one-horned rhinoceros to China. Chinese Forest Minister Zhang Jianlong and other Chinese officials had requested the Nepali side to gift the rhinos.

According to conservationists, gifting of the rhinos to China would open the process for future collaboration in wildlife conservation between the two countries. This is the first time since 2007 that the government of Nepal has decided to gift wild animals to other countries.

Earlier, National Trust for Nature Conservation used to gift wild animals to various countries.