Good rhino news from Nepal


This video is called Rhino Attack (Chitwan National Park Nepal 2010).

From Wildlife Extra:

Nepal rhino population increases by more than 100

Nepal’s rhino population in the Terai Arc Landscape has increased 21 per cent over the last fours according to figures released by the Nepali Government.

There are now 645 rhinos there, compared to the 2011 estimate of 534, and numbers are the highest they’ve been since the early 1950s.

The increase in rhino numbers also comes just days after Nepal marked yet another 365-day period without a single rhino being poached – the third time in five years they’ve achieved this zero-poaching feat.

The rhino count was conducted from 11 April–2 May in Chitwan National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Bardia National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and their buffer zones in the Terai Arc Landscape.

It was led by the government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests, in collaboration with WWF Nepal and National Trust for Nature Conservation.

The count was done using a sweep operation with 267 official observers, including wildlife biologists, national park technical staff, conservationists, local people and the army – some riding on trained elephants to help traverse the difficult landscape.

In order to estimate numbers, the observers gather unique identifying information from individual rhinos they see, so they can avoid double-counting. This can include the shape and size of horns, folds in the skin on the neck and rump, and other identifying characteristics or marks, for instance on the ears or around the body.

The news come at a difficult time for the country, as it comes to terms with the devastating earthquake that struck the nation on 25 April. WWF colleagues in Nepal have been focusing their time and resources on supporting relief efforts and helping affected communities in the regions where they work.

United States religious fundamentalist abuses Nepal disaster for bigotry


This video says about itself:

Nepal earthquake 2015 worst ever in 81 years

25 April 2015

A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.9 on Richter scale and a series of aftershocks struck Nepal on Saturday. The quakes also jolted parts of North and Northeast India. Widespread damage has been reported from Nepal.

Aftershocks hinder rescue efforts as Nepal quake death toll passes 2,500: here.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The death toll from Nepal’s earthquake rose to 3,218 on Monday, two days after the massive quake ripped across this Himalayan nation, leaving tens of thousands shell-shocked and sleeping in streets: here.

OVER 3,700 DEAD IN NEPAL EARTHQUAKE The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers attempt to reach secluded mountain villages after the devastating 7.8 earthquake Saturday. Check out these maps of the damage, as well as photos of Nepal’s landmarks before and after the earthquake. Footage was captured of the horrific avalanche that swept through a Mount Everest base camp after the quake, and dozens are still trapped on the mountain. [AP]

NEPAL DEATH TOLL COULD SURPASS 10,000 The death toll currently stands at 4,349. Take a look at this map of the horrific damage. [Reuters]

RESCUERS dug with their bare hands yesterday and bodies piled up in Nepal after an earthquake devastated the Kathmandu Valley on Saturday: here.

Nepal was made vulnerable by more than its violent geology, by Shaheen Chughtai. The country is crippled by poverty and poor infrastructure – when the long-feared earthquake hit, devastation was inevitable. The challenge of providing aid will be huge: here.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should not rebuild their ‘pagan shrines’

Self-styled US pastor has previously been accused of homphobia

Andrew Buncombe, New York

Sunday 26 April 2015

A former Los Angeles police officer and self-styled preacher, has sparked outcry by suggesting that Nepalis should not rebuild their “pagan shrines” and instead convert to Christianity.

Tony Miano, an outspoken conservative who has previously been accused of homophobia, triggered angry responses when he posted a series of messages on social media, expressing sympathy for the people struck by devastation in Nepal, but suggesting God was angry.

Tony Miano

Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ.

Santa Clarita, CA

Mr Miano, who is based in California, describes himself as an open air preacher. His website says he established the Cross Encounters Ministries to provide a platform for his preaching and evangelism.

Nepal, which has a population of around 28m people, is around 85 per cent Hindu. There is a significant population of Buddhists, followed by several other minority communities, including Muslim and Christian.

World’s largest animal sacrifice in Nepal condemned


This video from Nepal is called An Invitation to Palden Dorje’s Blessings to Protest Animal Sacrifice. It says about itself:

In Nepal, from November 19th to the 24th, 2009 Palden Dorje aka Ram Bomjon famous for his long term meditation, will be giving blessings at the site of Gadhi Mai Mela. He plans this appearance in order to protest the sacrificing of more than a million animals before they begin on the 24th at the Gadhi Mai Festival near Nijgad in Bara District. Please participate in any way you can. Tell all your friends! There are also news articles, discussion boards and a petition to “stop Gadimai” animal sacrifice on GoPetition.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Gadhimai Hindu festival: Global condemnation of slaughter of more than 5,000 buffaloes

The ritual in Nepal has been condemned as ‘unparalleled religious madness’

Lizzie Dearden

Saturday 29 November 2014

The slaughter of more than 5,000 buffaloes at the Gadhimai Hindu festival in Nepal has drawn global condemnation from animal charities.

Many more buffaloes and farm animals including chickens, goats and pigs are due to be killed as part of what is thought to be the world’s largest animal sacrifice ritual.

Devotees believe the event brings good luck and will encourage Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power, to answer their wishes.

Several charities had worked to stop the slaughter – the first of its kind since an estimated 200,000 animals and birds were sacrificed in 2009 – but only succeeded in pressuring the Indian Government into stopping animals being transported across the border.

Joanna Lumley is among the celebrities opposing the festival and led a protest in London last month with the charity Compassion in World Farming.

At a rally outside the Nepalese embassy, she said: “I love Nepal – both the land and its people. The Gadhimai animal sacrifice festival entails horrendous animal suffering and is a complete anomaly in this wonderful country.”

The ritual begins before dawn in the fields outside Gadhimai temple in Bariyarpur, where a priest trickles his own blood combined with that of a rat, chicken, pigeon, goat, and pig.

Read more: Gadhimai begins with slaughter of 5,000
Gadhimai 2009: ‘Slaughter of 20,000 innocents’

Thousands of vehicles packed with families carrying goats and birds intended for sacrifice travelled along the road leading to the temple on Friday.

To end the first day of the event, thousands of buffaloes were decapitated by a group of specially chosen men using curved kukri knives.

“The sights and sounds are unimaginable,” wrote Jayasimha Nuggehalli director of the Indian branch of the Humane Society International. “Pools of blood, animals bellowing in pain and panic, wide-eyed children looking on, devotees covered in animal blood, and some people even drinking blood from the headless but still warm carcasses.”

Shristi Singh Shrestha, an animal rights activist with Animal Welfare Network Nepal, told the Guardian she felt “defeated” because the group was unable to stop the slaughter but the number of killed livestock was falling.

“However, the positive thing is that the number of animals killed has come down…we hope there will be no killing of any animal at the next festival,” she said.

An Italian charity, Partito EcoAnimalista, called Gadhimai “unparalleled religious madness”, saying the buffaloes are not given food or water for several days before the slaughter to make them docile and weak.

Peta also launched a petition calling for the “horrifying display of violence” to be stopped.

Its letter read: “The frenzied slaughter of hundreds of thousands of goats, chickens, buffalo and other animals only tarnishes Nepal’s international reputation. Numerous animals, already weakened by their long journeys, die from exhaustion, starvation or dehydration before the massacre begins.”

Several Hindu leaders have also argued that the ritual goes against core religious beliefs.

Surya Upadhya, chairman of the Nepalese Hindu Forum in the UK, said:  “The Nepalese Hindu Forum in the UK completely opposes animal sacrifice as Hinduism does not sanction the killing of living beings.

“There should not be any place for this inhumane, barbaric sacrifice of innocent animals in the name of any religion”.

The interim law banning the transport of animals from India had led to almost 2,500 being confiscated and 114 arrests in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Sashastra Seema Bal, said N.G. Jayasimha, the managing director of Humane Society International India.

Pictures of the slaughter showed carcasses of countless beheaded and mutilated animals surrounded by pools of blood as young boys watched the bloodshed.

The gruesome images provoked outrage on Twitter, with global calls for Gadhimai to be stopped before the next ritual is due in 2019, although some defended the tradition.

Three bears rescued from poachers in Nepal


This video is called Close encounter with a Sloth BearYala National Park – Sri Lanka.

From Wildlife Extra:

Three bears rescued from poachers are doing well

After being rescued from poachers in Nepal by Wildlife SOS and International Animal Resuce (IAR) in December 2013, three sloth bears are reported to be doing well.

The bears had been kept by poachers until they had grown large enough for sale, and when they were old enough had been taken to India in an attempt to sell them to the Kalandar community, who had traditionally used bears for dancing. However, the practice of keeping dancing bears was made illegal in India in 1972, and in 2009 all dancing bears in the country were liberated. The poachers found that, as the Kalandar community no longer maintains the dancing bear tradition, they could not sell them the bears. As a result, the animals were taken back to Nepal, where it is believed they would have been sold to make bear paw soup.

They were fortunately apprehended by Wildlife SOS and local police from the forestry department. The bears, named Bean, Bintha, and Bobby, were moved to Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ranchi for care, before being relocated to the Wildlife SOS Sanctuary where they are being cared for and rehabilitated with help from International Animal Rescue (IAR).

The oldest bear, Bean, was three-years-old when he was rescued from the poachers. He was found with a rope pierced through his nose, and his canines had been removed, most likely without anesthetic. Vets removed the rope from his nose and treated him for pain.

Bintha, who was 11-months-old at the time of rescue, also had her nose pierced and harnessed with a rope, and although it has healed, she still bears the scars.

According to Wildlife SOS, Bobby is the more reserved of the three. After he has spent time learning the basics of being a wild sloth bear in the sanctuary’s socialisation enclosure, he will be given access to a free-roaming area where he can live like a wild bear, but with the added security of having the Wildlife SOS team on-hand. All the bears now have a clean bill of health and continue to improve, socialising with the other bears at the sanctuary.

Sloth bears, which are found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (the Sri Lankan sloth bear), have been traditionally used as dancing bears. They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, with currently about 20,000 alive in the wild.

British government accused of helping monarchist torturers in Nepal


This video says about itself:

Legal bid over MI5 torture guidance

A British human rights group has launching legal action against the government over guidelines the UK’s intelligence agencies on how to interrogate prisoners held overseas.

Reprieve, which represents former Guantanamo Bay detainees, says unpublished guidance from 2002 and 2004 is unlawful because it condones complicity in torture.

Alan Fisher reports from London.

(Feb 23, 2010)

From AFP news agency:

Britain accused of conniving at torture of Maoists in Nepal’s civil war

Author says MI6 assisted Nepalese army as it carried out gross human rights violations in war with Maoist rebels

Sunday 31 August 2014 04.18 BST

British authorities have been accused of funding a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country’s civil war.

Thomas Bell, the author of a new book on the conflict, says MI6 funded safe houses and provided training in surveillance and counter-insurgency tactics to Nepal’s army and spy agency, the National Investigation Department (NID) under “Operation Mustang”, launched in 2002.

Nepal’s decade-long civil war left more than 16,000 dead, with rebels and security forces accused of serious human rights violations including killings, rapes, torture and disappearances.

“According to senior Nepalese intelligence and army officials involved in the operation, British aid greatly strengthened their performance and led to about 100 arrests,” said Bell, whose book Kathmandu is released in south Asia on Thursday.

“It’s difficult to put an exact number on it, but certainly some of those who were arrested were tortured and disappeared,” he said.

Maoist commander Sadhuram Devkota, known by his nom-de-guerre Prashant, was among those captured during Operation Mustang, in November 2004. Six weeks later, he was found hanging from a low window in his cell. Officials said he had committed suicide.

Despite protests, no independent investigation was ever carried out.

British authorities helped construct a bug-proof building in the NID headquarters, created a secure radio network for communications and supplied everything from cameras to computers to mobile phones and night vision binoculars, according to Bell’s sources in the Nepalese security establishment.

“The agency also sent a small number of British officers to Nepal, around four or five – some tied to the embassy, others operating separately,” Bell said.

The officers gave the Nepalese training in how to place bugs, how to penetrate rebel networks and how to groom informers.

Bell spent about a year interviewing some 20 highly-placed sources to corroborate the details of the operation, and said a senior western official told him the operation was cleared by Britain’s Foreign Office.

A Nepalese general with close knowledge of the operation told Bell there was no doubt British authorities realised that some of the arrested suspects would be tortured and killed.

“Being British they must have thought about human rights also, but they knew exactly what was happening to them,” the general said. “The thing must have been approved at a high level.”

Bell said it was “a peculiar contradiction that while calling for an end to abuses … the British were secretly giving very significant help in arresting targets whom they knew were very likely to be tortured”.

Bell covered Nepal’s civil war from 2002 to 2007, reporting for the Economist and the South China Morning Post.

Tejshree Thapa, senior researcher at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, told AFP: “Nepal’s army was known by 2002 to be an abusive force, responsible for … summary executions, torture, custodial detentions.

“To support such an army is tantamount to entrenching and encouraging abuse and impunity.”

The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal’s Maoist Revolution, by Aditya Adhikari (Verso, £20). Book review here.

THE trial of a Nepalese army officer accused of torturing two suspected Maoist rebels during that country’s bloody civil war began at the Old Bailey in London yesterday. Lieutenant Colonel Kumar Lama, 47, allegedly presided over the torture of two men — Janak Raut and Karam Hussain — while in charge of Gorusinghe Barracks in Kapilvastu, Nepal in 2005: here.