four protected areas of Nepal. Of those, 605 rhinos are in Chitwan National Park (CNP), 29 in Bardiya National Park (BNP), eight in Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP) and three in Parsa National Park (PNP).
Conservationists concur that the country has done a praiseworthy work in conservation of one-horned rhinos, which were facing major threat at one point.
The number of rhinos in Nepal had decreased drastically during the 1960s because of poaching and habitat loss. By 1966, there was about 100 rhinos left in the country.
Their population improved after establishment of the CNP in 1973, and enhanced protection efforts. Rhino numbers suffered another wave of decline during the decade-long armed conflict when there were only 408 of them left.
The previous action plan on rhino conservation (2006-2011) was successful, with their population going up to 534 in 2011 from 408 in 2005.
“One-horned rhinos continue to face threat from poachers and habitat destruction. Despite enhanced security and conservation efforts, rhinos aren’t safe. There has been almost zero poaching for last few years, but one rhino was killed in 2017. The incident shows they are still under threat,” said Paudyal.
The new action plan includes objectives like strengthening institutional capacity at national and local levels, minimising habitat loss and managing human-wildlife conflict through community engagement, among others.
“We have achieved zero poaching year for consecutive four years which was possible because of combined efforts from all sides. Awareness for minimising human-wildlife conflict, ample research and support from local communities are necessary to achieve the target,” added Paudyal.
The action plan also prioritises enhancing support and cooperation for rhino conservation at national and international levels, and research, monitoring and documentation works.
The new action plan prepared by the DNPWC has been promulgated through revision of past similar action plans, protected area management plans, Forest Policy (2015) and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2014-2020).
This action plan will be implemented in CNP, BNP, PNP and SNP, and their buffer zones.
The government has estimated budget of Rs 646.15 million for the implementation of the action plan.
The required fund will be managed from government and national and international conservation partners.