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How four rhinos became symbol of China-Nepal relations

Nepal’s decision to gift two pairs of endangered rhinos to China was made in 2016 during the government led by KP Sharma Oli, and the animals were handed over in July.

world Updated: Sep 28, 2018 08:45 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Rhino,One-horned rhinos,China-Nepal ties
A one-horned rhinoceros.(REUTERS/)

Cooperation through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and billion-dollar infrastructure projects are all fine but Bhadra and Rupasi could soon become the vigorous symbols of increasingly strong Sino-Nepal ties.

Earlier this year, around 50 people, including Nepalese army personnel, technical experts, veterinary doctors and wildlife officials, fanned out and then sweated it out – besides risking injury – for days inside the Chitwan National Park to track down four one-horned rhinoceros.

It was all for a bit of animal diplomacy with Nepal’s big neighbour and benefactor, China. Nepal’s decision to gift two pairs of endangered rhinos to China was made in 2016 during the government led by KP Sharma Oli, and the animals, including two named Bhadra and Rupasi, were handed over in July.

Nurendra Aryal from the park told Xinhua news agency two years ago: “We captured three rhinos from different parts of the park in a week, as we already have one rhino under our surveillance.”

Going by their food habits, the four endangered animals seem to have to taken to China well – they eat 60 kg of food a day, including fresh grass and fruits.

The animals – besides representing Nepal’s deep affection for China, according to a Chinese official – have inspired Beijing and Kathmandu to launch a joint research project on one-horned rhinos.

“The two pairs of rhinos Nepal gave to China represent the Nepalese people’s deep affection for Chinese people and the project to protect the rhinos will be the embodiment of friendship between China and Nepal,” SFGA’s Li Chunliang said during the launch of the China-Nepal Rhinoceros Conservation Collaborative Research in Shanghai.

An investigation by US-based NGO Elephant Action League found last year that most poached horns find their way to Vietnam and Chinese provinces.

Until then Bhadra and Rupasi will remain mere tools of diplomacy.

First Published: Sep 28, 2018 08:45 IST