Elephants help rescue hundreds from flooded Nepali safari park

An elephant of the Assam Forest department wades through flood waters in Jakhalabandha area in Koliabor, some 186km from Guwahati, the capital city of India’s northeastern state of Assam on August 13, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 14 August 2017

Elephants help rescue hundreds from flooded Nepali safari park

Katmandu: Elephants helped rescue hundreds of tourists from a flooded jungle safari park in Nepal, officials said on Monday, as the death toll from flash floods and landslides after four days of heavy rain rose to 70.
The Rapti River overflowed its banks in Sauraha, 80 km (50 miles) south of the capital, Katmandu, inundating hotels and restaurants and leaving some 600 tourists stranded.
Sauraha, on the fringe of Chitwan National Park, is home to 605 rhinoceroses and is popular with foreign tourists, including Indian and Chinese visitors, mainly for rhino watching and elephant rides.
“Some 300 guests were rescued on elephant backs and tractor trailers to (nearby) Bharatpur yesterday and the rest will be taken to safer places today,” Suman Ghimire, head of a group of Sauraha hotel owners, said by telephone on Monday.
Floods have also swept the nearby northeast Indian state of Assam state in the past two days, killing at least 15 people and displacing nearly 2.3 million, officials said on Monday.
Nearly 90 percent of Assam’s Kaziranga national park, home to the world’s largest population of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, was under water, Forest Minister Pramilla Rani Brahma said. The animals have moved to higher ground.
In Nepal, relief workers said 26 of the country’s 75 districts were either submerged or had been hit by landslides after heavy rains lashed the Himalayan nation, home to Mount Everest and the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
The death toll was expected to rise with another 50 people reported missing, Information and Communications Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet said.
Basnet said more than 60,000 homes were under water, mainly in the southern plains bordering India. Estimates of losses were not available, with rescuers yet to reach villages marooned by the worst floods in recent years.
“The situation is worrying as tens of thousands of people have been hit,” Basnet told Reuters.
Large swaths of farmland in the southern plains, Nepal’s breadbasket, are under water and the country could face food shortages due to crop losses, aid workers said.
“The heavy rains hit at one of the worst times, shortly after farmers planted their rice crop in the country’s most important agricultural region,” said Sumnima Shrestha, a spokeswoman for US-based non-profit group Heifer International.
Monsoon rains, which start in June and continue through September, are important for farm-dependent Nepal, but they also cause heavy loss of life and property damage each year.


Man eats $120,000 piece of art — a banana taped to wall

Updated 08 December 2019

Man eats $120,000 piece of art — a banana taped to wall

MIAMI: The move was bananas ... or maybe the work was just too appealing.
A performance artist shook up the crowd at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach on Saturday when he grabbed a banana that had been duct-taped to a gallery wall and ate it.
The banana was, in fact, a work of art by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan titled “Comedian” and sold to a French collector for $120,000.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, David Datuna, who describes himself as a Georgian-born American artist living in New York, walks up to the banana and pulls it off the wall with the duct tape attached.
“Art performance ... hungry artist,” he said, as he peeled the fruit and took a bite. “Thank you, very good.”
A few bystanders could be heard giggling before a flustered gallery official whisked him to an adjoining space for questioning.
But the kerfuffle was resolved without a food fight.
“He did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea,” Lucien Terras, director of museum relations for Galerie Perrotin, told the Miami Herald.
As it turns out, the value of the work is in the certificate of authenticity, the newspaper said. The banana is meant to be replaced.
A replacement banana was taped to the wall about 15 minutes after Datuna’s stunt.
“This has brought a lot of tension and attention to the booth and we’re not into spectacles,” Terras said. “But the response has been great. It brings a smile to a lot of people’s faces.”
Cattelan is perhaps best known for his 18-carat, fully functioning gold toilet called “America” that he had once offered on loan to US President Donald Trump.
The toilet, valued at around $5 to $6 million, was in the news again in September when it was stolen from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of wartime leader Winston Churchill, where it had been on display.