The government’s plan to present a pair of one-horned rhinos to China ahead of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit is unlikely to come to fruition.
The prime minister embarks on a five-day state visit to China on Tuesday. Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), said the plan fell through as China had not sent its officials to collect the rhinos from Kathmandu.
Four rhinos have been captured from the Chitwan National Park (CNP) for the purpose of gifting them
to China. “We have completed the preparations from our side. The rhinos were captured nearly two months ago. We are now waiting for the Chinese team to come and collect the present,” said Khadka.
On June 3, Minister for Forest and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet had met with Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong and informed her that the preparations for sending the rhinos to China had been completed from the Nepali side.
The captured rhinos, which are being kept in a pen and looked after by the CNP staff, will be transported to Kathmandu once it is confirmed that the Chinese officials are arriving to collect them.
With Prime Minister Oli leaving for China on Tuesday, Khadka said “the possibility of rhinos reaching China ahead of the prime minister are quite low”.
China had requested the Nepal government to present two pairs of one-horned rhinos when former Forest Minister Agni Sapkota visited the northern neighbouring nation in January 2016. The Chinese side had renewed its request when PM Oli visited China that same year.The government then decided to gift four rhinos to China in July 2016.