I arrived in Nepal nearly a month ago. I have fallen head over heels in love with Nepal, especially my camp.
I live in Sauraha, Chitwan, Nepal at the Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC). It is a part of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). I feel right at home, which is great because I have to live here until early May.
Before I arrived, I imagined the camp would be hard to live in. I was excited to live and work at a research station. However, I was prepared for a harder life than what I am used to!
I arrived on January 25, 2013. A Nepali man, who did not speak English, greeted us. He said “Namaste,” the typical Nepali greeting. He then opened the large gate. I got my first glance of my home. It was huge! There was a large, white, three-story, business building. I also noticed a few two-story houses for researchers and guests. I saw the kitchen and the dormitories. I also saw a large, fenced area.
I was the first person to get to the dormitories. I was shocked! All of the rooms had beds, desks and electrical outlets! I picked out my room. It’s the largest one! I teased my classmates. I told them I deserve the biggest room, because I am the only girl in the class! There is only one other woman at our camp. Like me, the other woman is an American. All of the Nepali scientists are men. This is because in Nepal, women usually have traditional roles, such as housewives.
My bedroom has two large windows. One of the windows looks over the large, fenced area. I eagerly peered out of the window, hoping to see something appear. A few minutes later I heard one of my favorite sounds: the trumpet of an elephant. All of the trees started to rattle. Then the large, grey, beauties appeared. I saw six adult elephants, one adolescent and one baby. My jaw dropped!
I went outside to get a better view of the elephants. I met the other American woman at the camp. She explained that this camp is the only place in southeast Asia that has unchained domestic elephants. Everywhere else in Asia, domestic elephants are chained to posts and are not allowed much space to roam. Isn’t that sad? I am happy our elephants can roam around freely inside their fenced area.
Suddenly, I saw a small rhino about as tall as my waist appear. I am 5′ 5″, so that’s a small rhino! I learned the story of Biru (bee-ru) the rhino. Biro, who is now seven months old, was discovered in Chitwan National Park when he was two months old. He was attacked by a tiger. Even though his mother was successful in chasing the tiger away, Biru was hurt. His mother abandoned him. He was found by a researcher who took him back to the BCC. His name, Biru, means “brave”. Biru’s wound has not healed yet. I believe he will never be released into the wild.
Biru is very friendly. He follows me around camp. We feed him apples and bananas. His favorite food is orange peels. He likes to sunbathe, play soccer and nap with us. I am one of few people who can say they have lived with an endangered rhino.
I look forward to all that the next few months will bring! This is a great place to learn about the environment, wildlife, sustainably and Nepali culture.