September 05, 2017
Recent floods in South Asia have not only hit the public and infrastructure, they have also shown a severe impact on endangered species of the region, displacing many of them.
Intense flooding swept away endangered one-horned rhinos of the Chitwan National Park (CNP), one of the main habitats of endangered one-horned rhinos hosting 606 of the total 645 one-horned rhinos of Nepal, into different areas of West Champaran District of Bihar (India).
With this, forest officials of Nepal and experts from Bihar began their joint rescue operations in search of missing rhinos of Nepal that were swept away into India, informed the Chitwan National Park (CNP) authorities on September 04, 2017.
Authorities further informed that they have so far rescued eight rhinos (three rhino calves and five adult rhinos) and are still continuing their search suspecting more such cases.
“Eight rhinos have already been rescued, but there could be more stranded in India. So, we have been searching for them,” said Nurendra Aryal, Assistant Conservation Officer, CNP.
According to the forest officials’ estimates, around 15 rhinos were swept away into different parts of Bihar due to heavy floods caused by the River Gandak or Narayani in Bihar and Nepal from August 12, 2017. However, there is no information on the status of remaining rhinos.
“At least 15 rhinos from Nepal were swept into West Champaran in the floods that came after very heavy rainfall in the catchment area of the Gandak. There could be more. So far, a joint team of around 250 people from Bihar and Nepal has been able to rescue six of them,” said Amit Kumar, DFO-cum-deputy director of Bettiah-2 forest range in West Champaran on September 01, 2017.
World-famous Kaziranga of Assam Badly Hit
Not just Nepal! Kaziranga National Park of Assam, home to the world’s largest population of rare one-horned rhinos and other endangered species, also suffered a major damage due to recent floods.
According to Kaziranga Director Satyendra Singh, rescue teams have recovered 225 dead animals since August 12, 2017, with 15 of them were rhinos (as of September 21, 2017).
“Nearly 200 deer, four elephant calves, four wild boars, two water buffaloes and one porcupine were among the other animals found dead in Kaziranga, which is still 20 percent under water. A Bengal tiger also died in a fight with a herd of elephants. It is possible that due to floods, there was a space crunch and it led to a territorial conflict,” informed Singh on September 21, 2017.
Joint Rescue Operation, A Great Opportunity
Speaking about the joint rescue operation being undertaken by officials of both the countries, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) of Bihar Bharat Jyoti said, “The joint operation is a great opportunity for us and a progressive step in mutual cooperation between India and Nepal to save wildlife.”
Bharat Jyoti also informed that officials from both the countries are going to discuss trans-boundary arrangements on wild animals, biodiversity and conservation later in September 2017, in New Delhi. Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve in Bihar and Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh are contiguous to the forests in Nepal, he added.
A team of veterinary and CNP officials have been in India since August 15, 2017 and a joint team of more than 250 people from Bihar and Nepal were in search of missing rhinos (as of September 01, 2017).