Report on China rhino habitat observation submitted

Kathmandu, May 7

After the habitat observation in Shanghai and Guangzhou about a month ago, the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation has expedited the process of gifting a pair of one-horned rhinos to China.

According to the department, it the submitted habitat observation report to the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation last week. A team led by DoNPWC Deputy Director General Gopal Prasad Bhattarai returned from China on April 14 after a five-day observation visit to Shanghai and Guangzhou. Bhattarai said the team completed its task and gave the green light to gifting rhinos to China.

“We saw marvellous rhino habitats in Shanghai and Guangzhou.” DDG Bhattarai told The Himalayan Times, adding the rhinos to be gifted by Nepal will face no survival threat in Chinese habitats.

Ten months after the Cabinet passed a decision to gift two pairs of rhinos to China, a Nepali team of experts have deemed certain habitats in China suitable for them. The Cabinet had decided to gift two pairs of one-horned rhinoceros to China on July 10 last year. However, the process was delayed because the Nepali side had not been able make habitat observation visit to China.

China had invited a Nepali team for habitat observation from August 15 to 21 last year. A five-member Chinese team had visited Nepal’s major rhino habitat in Chitwan in January this year. According to Chief Warden at Chitwan National Park Ram Chandra Kandel one of the two pairs of rhinos will be sent to Shanghai and another pair to Guangzhou. He said that in Shanghai, the rhinos will released in Safari Park, and in Guangzhou, the rhinos will be kept in a research centre.

As per the 2015 census, there are 645 rhinos in Nepal.  Upon request from Chinese Forest Minister Zhang Jianlong and other Chinese officials, then prime minister KP Sharma Oli had issued instructions to forward the process of gifting rhinos to China in January 2016.

Conservationists opine the gifting of the rhinos to China would pave the way for future collaboration in wildlife conservation between the two countries.  This is the first time since 2007 that Nepal has decided to gift wild animals to other countries.