In Nepal, the greater one-horned rhinoceros is starting to recover from poaching that occurred during the 1996-2006 civil war. A recent study found 534 rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis), 99 more than were found in 2008.
Chitwan National Park is home to 503 rhinos, an increase of 95 from 2008 data. The number of rhinos in Bardia National Park is up by two from the 22 found in 2008. Seven of the rhinos were found in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, up by two since 2008 as well.
The three week long study was carried out by Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation with the support of the World Wildlife Fund Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
Krishna Prasad Acharya, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation declared the rhino census a fine example of working together where all conservation partners and local communities are contributing to the conservation efforts of the Government of Nepal, in a WWF press release.
“The government is encouraged by this positive result, although challenges remain in curbing poaching and protecting rhino habitat,” said Maheshwor Dhakal, ecologist with the government’s national parks department, in an interview with the AFP.
Although trade in rhino horn is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, the high black-market price for horns keeps poachers on the lookout for rhinos. A single horn can sell for thousands of dollars. The buyers are primarily Chinese and Southeast Asians who hold a belief in the horn’s medicinal properties.
Another threat to rhino populations is the loss of habitat as human populations expand into the lands where rhinos roam.
Still the rise in rhino population numbers is a victory. “We are much encouraged that increased WWF support to the anti-poaching efforts of the Government of Nepal has actually resulted in an increase in the Rhino population within three years,” says Dr. Christy Williams, WWF’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy coordinator, in a WWF press release.
IMAGE 1: One-horned rhinoceros in Bardiya, Nepal (Wikimedia Commons).
IMAGE 2: A one-horned rhino in Kaziranga, India (Wikimedia Commons).