February 18, 2020
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CHITWAN: Deaths of rhinos in Nepal reached 18 in the first eight months of the current fiscal year.
These deaths are stated to be natural. The mysterious deaths of rhinoceros have become a major concern for conservationists.
‘‘Samples of dead rhino bodies were tested in Chitwan based lab. A preliminary report stated that the death was caused due to the maximum consumption of mustard flowers. It is suspected that the rhinos died by consuming mustard flowers that have toxic effects on these animals,’’ said Bishnu Prasad Shrestha, information officer at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
Of the dead rhinos, seven were identified as males, nine females and two were unknown as their bodies had decomposed beyond recognition by the time they were found. One of them is a baby.
Though Nepal’s fight against poaching is said to be successful evident from the celebration of zero-poaching since-2011, the number of deaths stated to be of natural causes have worried the conservationists.
In the first eight months, apart from natural causes, some rhinos had met accidental deaths. For instance, one rhino died in a fight and another died due to electric shock, TRN reported.
Three rhinos were found to have died possibly by consuming poisonous food and others died due to old age, Shrestha said.
Shrestha stated, ‘‘We are working sensitively to minimize deaths of rhinos even it was already reached 18 the first eight months.’’
A nine-member task force of specialists led by Ram Chandra Kandel, Deputy Director-General of DNPWC, is arriving in Chitwan on Tuesday to investigate the causes of deaths of rhinos.
Specialists and officials from the National Trust for Nature Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Forest and Environment Ministry, the Department of Livestock Services, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and livestock experts from Chitwan are the members of a task force.
The team is scheduled to visit Nawalparasi, Kesariya, and Chitwan and interact with several groups about the issue, he said.
Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage Site, in average has reported 23 to 25 rhinos by natural deaths every year. Deaths of 43 rhinos in last fiscal year had become a matter of headache for the conservationists.