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Nepal Hosts Five-day Chitwan Elephant Festival to Revive Dwindling Tourism Industry

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Representational image. Pixabay

December 27, 2016: The 13th edition of Nepal’s five-day Chitwan Elephant Festival kicked off here with the participation of over 50 elephants.

The annual festival which brings fun, sports and adventure together was inaugurated on Monday in Sauraha, the gateway to Chitwan National Park, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

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The festival would feature unique and spectacular games like polo, football, fast-walk, beauty contest, picnic among others elephant participation.

The annual event has been organised by Regional Hotel Association Chitwan in order to bring humans closer with elephants, to encourage wildlife protection and conservation and to promote tourism in the region.

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Inaugurating the fiesta, Nepalese Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said that these sorts of festivals play an important role in attracting foreign tourists.

“Chitwan is a pioneer hub for elephant adventures but still lack tourists as compared to other parts of the country.

“We need to attract more tourists from our neighbouring countries to boost the overall tourism industry,” Shahi said.

The tourism industry in Nepal was adversely affected by the devastating earthquake in 2015, he said.

“If we could invite just one per cent of population from the neighbouring countries India and China, it would be a big achievement for Nepal”, Shahi added.

Chitwan is the third popular tourism destination in the Himalayan country after the capital city Kathmandu and lake city Pokhara.

Though the region used to welcome nearly 200,000 tourists in a single year, the number has dropped to less than half after the disaster of 2015.

This year, the festival has introduced elephant polo for the first time in its history, which is expected to draw huge number of foreign and domestic tourists.

Elephant polo is often regarded as the most adventurous and rare activity in the world.

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Besides, the festival has also featured cultural and entertainment programs along with boat and cart riding competition.

The five-day event will end on Friday. (IANS)

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Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)