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A Runaway Rhinoceros Rampages Through a Bazaar in Nepal

Image tweeted by Nepali blogger @janakdangol

Image tweeted by Nepali blogger @janakdangol

On the morning of March 30, a one-horned rhino ran through a busy market and near a hospital, killing a 61-year-old woman and injuring several people, in a town 50 miles south of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

Nepal is home to 534 of the world's 3,000 endangered one-horned rhinoceros population. The country's Chitwan National Park, 30 miles from where the incident took place, has 503 one-horned rhinos.

Nepal has earned international recognition for its conservation efforts and its innovative methods to curb wildlife attacks. The Chitwan reserve has the world’s second largest population of the vulnerable animal, which weighs an average of 4,000-6,000 pounds. Hunting depleted one-horned rhino numbers to near extinction in the early 20th century. Rigorous conservation efforts has increased their population the last few decades. Nepal has played a huge role in wildlife conservation. Between 2011 and 2013, there was no poaching in Nepal; not a single tiger or rhino was killed. 

The Nepali news site Pahilopost, reported that the animal rampaged through Hetauda, a city of about 85,000 people. The rhino was spotted near Hetauda hospital, and went viral on social media. Locals tweeted pictures and videos of the rhino running around the bazaar before the mainstream media reported on the rhino’s escapades.

Kumar Paudel tweeted:

Journalist Ujjwal Acharya tweeted:

In Nepal fatal wildlife attacks occur in areas close to national parks and wildlife reserves. According to a 2008 study, 36 tigers killed 88 people between 1979 and 2006 around the Chitwan National Park.

To prevent attacks, the government and conservation organisations have been running awareness campaigns targeting communities living close to wildlife reserves. Extra safety measures like solar fences, concrete posts and ditches have been dug up around vulnerable communities. 

Communities close to wildlife reserves have also started cultivating mentha, a menthol oil producing plant, and chamomile, on their lands.The smell of these plants seems to keep wild animals away, and planting a field of these crops acts as a protective fence. The idea of planting these crops was recognised as one of the world’s 12 best innovations in the 2011 BBC’s International World Challenge Award.

As the local administration, park officials and local volunteers were busy driving the rhino back to the reserve, social media was rife with jokes on the rhino’s adventure.

One person making a joke of the rhino’s escape, tweeted:

Why did the rhino have to enter the hospital, as if [it] was a doctor.

Another journalist Kriti Bhuju tweeted:

[Seems] the rhino went shopping at Hetauda Bazaar, will it return if all the shops are closed?

  • Gwenaelle

    Hello,
    Maybe it’s just me and I’m being pessimistic, but I can’t help it: sentences like “between 2011 and 2013 there was no
    poaching in Nepal; not a single tiger or rhino was killed in Nepal” always leave me puzzled. Reading th news over the past years, it seemed to me that in most countries providing an habitat to endangered species, conservation workers are not as well equipped as poachers, far from it… whether it’s about manpower, budget, arms. In many cases it seems very challenging to evaluate the population of a given species. What does Nepal do differently to other countries to reach such a different, positive conclusion? Does it allow the means necessary to reach that end… or is that effective marketing?

  • Ellery

    Sanjib, this is a great story. It does a great job of balancing elements of seriousness and humor, and also taught me a lot about rhinos! And that video is really something. Scary, almost unreal-seeming.

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