Rhino population up by 21 pc

- BHUSAN YADAV, PRAGATI SHAHI, Kathmandu
Rhino population up by 21 pc

May 5, 2015-

Nepal is now home to 645 endangered one-horned rhinoceros. That number represents an increase of 111 rhinos from 2011, according to the findings of a nation-wide rhino count released on Tuesday.

A month-long rhino count taken across the rhino habitats in the country—at Chitwan National Park (CNP), Bardiya National Park (BNP), Sukhlaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR) and Parsa Wildlife Reserve (PWR)—recorded an increase

of 21 percent in the total rhino population compared to the 2011 census.

Of the total 645 rhinos, 237 were determined to be females and 178 to be males, while the sex of 230 rhinos tallied is yet to be ascertained. The nationwide counting was conducted from April 10 to May 2 this year.

According to the month-long rhino count, there are 605 rhinos in Chitwan National Park, 29 in BNP, eight in SWR and 3 in PWR, which recorded the presence of rhinos for the first time.

The government—with the support of various national and international conservation partners, development agencies and communities—has been conducting rhino counts every four years to monitor the status and populations of these endangered species, which are under threat from rampant poaching and illegal wildlife trade at the global level.

Spurred on by the positive developments, conservationists are now calling for well-designed programmes and plans focused on improving and managing the habitats to work towards long-term rhino conservation in the country.

Early this week, the government marked the third year of zero poaching of rhinos, meaning not a single rhino was killed or poached by poachers inside the country.

Gopal Prasad Bhattarai, chief of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the authority responsible for the rhino census, attributes the success to many factors. Chief among them were strict law enforcement, including infiltration of poacher networks both at the national and global levels, increased coordination among all the partners, proper habitat management initiatives such as management and establishment of biological corridors, and engagement of local communities in the conservation efforts.

“We urgently need to work towards mitigating human-wildlife conflicts to achieve positive results in overall wildlife conservation,” said Bhattarai.

In an effort to come up with proper scientific results, the technical team involved in the rhino count made use of technology such as global positioning systems and receivers, mobile phones, walkie-talkies and digital cameras. Similarly, the habitats were divided into separate blocks, to avoid duplication and the overlooking of animals in the surveyed areas.

Published: 06-05-2015 08:47

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