Province No. 3

Seven rhino calves found dead in past six months in CNP

- RAMESH KUMAR PAUDEL, CHITWAN

Mar 2, 2019-

Conservationists are worried about the alarming death rate of rhino calves in the Chitwan National Park (CNP). Seven one-horned rhino calves, aged between two weeks and two years, were found dead in the park in the past six months.

According to the CNP officials, the rhino calves were killed in attacks by male rhinos, tigers and crocodiles.

Though the CNP authority has managed to bring poaching-related deaths to zero in recent years, losing rhinos, both adults and calves, to natural causes is a grave issue in the CNP, the major rhino habitat of the country.

Gopal Bahadur Ghimire, information officer at the CNP, said two rhino calves were found dead on February 26 this year. A two-year-old female calf was found dead in Khoriyamuhan area of the park, while the carcass of a two-week old male rhino calf was recovered from the banks of Rapti river in Kumaroj area. Ghimire suspect the female calf might have been attacked by an adult male rhino while the male calf was attacked by a crocodile.

Four other rhino calves have been found dead in the CNP forest area since September 3, 2018.

According to the latest rhino census conducted in 2015, Nepal is home to 645 rhinos among which 605 are in Chitwan alone. There are 29 rhinos in the Bardiya National Park, eight in the Shuklaphanta National Park and three in the Parsa National Park. The number of rhinos, which fell sharply during the 1950s and 60s, started to pick up after the establishment of the CNP in 1973.

Rhino poaching was rampant in the past, especially during the decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006. As many as 38 rhinos were poached in a single year during that period. The rhinos are killed for their horns, hides, hooves and other body parts.

Poaching may have decreased in the last five years, but natural deaths have affected the rhino conservation efforts. Thirty-two CNP rhinos have died in the current fiscal year so far. A total of 26 rhinos died in the fiscal year of 2017-18, while the figure was 25, including one poaching incident, in the fiscal year 2016-17.

Published: 02-03-2019 09:34

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