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

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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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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)