Poachers kill one-horned rhino in Chitwan

  • Incident comes amid preparations to mark third zero poaching year

Apr 9, 2017-

A one-horned rhino was killed in the Dhrubaghat area of the Chitwan National Park on Friday night in what comes as a major setback in the country’s conservation efforts, just as the park was gearing up to mark the third year of zero rhino poaching. 

Chief Conservation Officer Ram Chandra Kandel said an organised group of poachers could be involved in killing the pachyderm. 

The adult male rhino was shot dead near Dhrubaghat in Belhatta Green Forest, a community forest in the CNP buffer zone-around three kilometres from the CNP headquarters in Kasara. Postmortem report showed that the poachers had used a .303 rifle to kill the beast, which was found dead on Saturday morning.  The bullet was found 50cm into the head. The poachers have taken away the horn and tail. 

Employees of a Chitwan-based hotel had spotted the carcass during jungle safari and immediately informed the CNP administration. 

“This is a tragic incident. This comes just as we were preparing to celebrate the third year of zero rhino poaching,” said Kandel. A function has been scheduled for May 3 to celebrate third year of zero rhino poaching. 

Nepal has made significant strides in rhino conservation in the last few years, with the number of the pachyderm, which was once reduced to around 100, rising to 645. 

Rampant poaching and pressures of human encroachment over the centuries reduced the number of rhinos, whose number once along the southern plains of the country was estimated to be in thousands. Rhino horns can sell for tens of thousands of dollars on the international black market and are used in traditional medicines in China and Southeast Asia.

With upped conservation efforts and awareness among locals, poaching has declined significantly in recent years. Two one-horned rhinos were killed in the same area in 2014 and 2008. A forest guard was also killed in the area four years ago. “The nature of poaching now and in 2014 is similar. The poachers have used sophisticated weapons to kill the rhino and they have severed the horn and tail in a similar fashion,” said Kandel.

The incident comes amid translocation of one-horned rhinos from the CNP to Bardiya and Shuklaphanta. 

CNP employees suspected that the poachers killed the rhino in the night when there was rain and thunderstorm. 

Army and police personnel and technicians had reached the incident site as soon as they were informed about the death of the rhino. The Army is using sniffer dogs to trace the poachers. 

Rhino poaching carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a fine of 

Rs 100,000. 

Published: 09-04-2017 07:49

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