Runaway rhino kills one, injures six in Nepal

Bidur Giri/AFP

A rhinoceros that had wandered off a wildlife reserve rampaged through a town in central Nepal on Monday, leaving one woman dead and six people injured, police said.

A local police official said the animal travelled some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the unfenced reserve to the town in Makwanpur district where it chased down startled pedestrians as well as vehicles.

“The rhino hit and killed one 61-year-old woman, and injured six others,” said Shishu Sharma, Makwanpur police spokesperson.

Sharma said the animal appeared to have calmed down and was now resting behind a hospital in Hetauda town.

“We have contacted technicians to see if we can sedate the rhino. Our focus is to rescue it,” Sharma said.

Authorities have also called in trained elephants to try to corner the rhino and guide it back to the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, located around 60 kilometres (35 miles) southwest of the capital Kathmandu.

While deforestation often forces wildlife to wander into nearby villages, experts say rhinos are rarely known to kill people.

However, in 2013, a rhino gored a man to death after he went fishing in a river in the Himalayan nation’s biggest conservation area, Chitwan National Park.

Nepal, home to 534 rhinos, has twice been recognised by conservation experts for going a full year with no poaching incidents involving tigers or rhinos.

Thousands of one-horned rhinos once roamed the plains of Nepal, but their numbers have plunged over the past century due to poaching and human encroachment of their habitat.

The animals are killed for their horns, which are prized for their supposed medicinal qualities in China and southeast Asia.