Two elephants being gifted to Qatar King

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By Basanta Parajuli,Narayangadh, Apr. 25: When the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamas Al-Thani came on his official visit to Nepal on Tuesday, preparations were being made to give two elephants as a gift from Nepal.

The two elephants set to be gifted are the offspring of the wild elephant ‘Ronaldo’. Rudrakali, six years old, and Khagendra Prasad, five years old, were born and trained at the Elephant Breeding Centre at Sorsor in Sauraha. They are being offered to the Qatar government as gift under the “Conservation Policy”.

Manipuran Chaudhary, Chief of the Breeding Centre, informed that Rudrakali, born on October 9, 2018, to Pujakali, and Khagendra Prasad, born on September 25, 2019, to Koshikali, are both offspring of the wild elephant Ronaldo.

Nowadays, most of the baby elephants born in the breeding centre are offspring of wild elephants, he said. The male elephant kept in the breeding centre called Dhirendra was killed by a wild elephant in 2000, necessitating the breeding centre to rely on wild elephants for breeding purpose.

At the elephant breeding centre established in 1987, elephant births have been recorded since 1997. The majority of those born at the breeding centre are offspring of Ronaldo. There are also many descendants of Ronaldo in the wild, Chaudhary added.

Additionally, wild elephants such as Dhoisag Dhurbe and Gobinde from the breeding centre also partake in mating activities. Previously, an elephant named Nana Patekar, who used to visit the breeding centre, has passed away.

Rameshwar Chaudhary, former Chief of the breeding centre, who has dedicated over four decades to elephant care, recounts his experiences of occasionally leading female elephants to the forest and at other times facilitating their mating at the breeding centre.

During this period, the wild elephant visits the breeding centre and engages in the mating process for three to four days. He also mentioned that the male elephant in the jungle receives signal when the females are ready for mating. In some instances, it has been observed that even when female elephants are taken to the forest, mating occurs naturally.

Elephant breeding centre Sauraha, which was established 37 years ago by receiving elephant gifts from India, Myanmar and Thailand, is now going to send two elephants to Qatar.

The breeding centre was established by receiving 16 elephants from India, two from Myanmar, and two from Thailand. Since then, 55 of the elephants born at the breeding centre have been trained and imparted skills. But later, four of those born in the centre passed away. 

However, this is the first instance of an elephant raised and trained at the breeding centre being offered as a gift. Ganesh Prasad Tiwari, Information Officer of Chitwan National Park, said that the timing for sending the gifts will be determined only after the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is sent to the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

“We can confirm the timing for sending the two elephants born and raised in the breeding centre as gift to Qatar only after receiving the MoU,” he said.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Badri Raj Dhungana, added that the MoU was also delayed due to the non-receipt of the SITE permit from Qatar.

According to the International Convention on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, there is a prohibition on transporting wild animals and their offspring. However, for the gifting of wild animals, there exists a legal framework allowing their transportation with the permission of the appropriate authorities.

“It will take some time to sort out all the technical and administrative issues,” Dhungana added. “We are in a state of preparation for the MoU.” Chaudhary informed that the elephants have been taught all the skills. “Both the elephants have been taught all the necessary skills,” he said. Before this, Nepal has gifted 26 rhinoceros, 10 crocodile babies, one wolf, and two leopards to various countries since 1985.

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