At a time when one horned rhinos are under severe threat due to rampant poaching in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, the species is getting a fresh lease of life in neighbouring Nepal.
On Monday Nepal marked another year without a single incident of rhinos falling prey to poachers. The country had recorded its first zero rhino poaching year in 2011.
“It’s a big achievement and is the result of collective efforts of national and international agencies that not a single rhino was killed by poachers in Nepal in the past 365 days,” said Megh Bahadur Pandey, director general of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
As per a 2011 census there were 534 one-horned rhinos in Nepal’s national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserves forests with Chitwan National Park accounting for 503 of them.
This is the highest concentration of the species after Kaziranga National Park in India’s north-eastern state of Assam. In past two years several dozens of rhinos have fallen prey to poachers’ bullets in Kaziranga.
Nepal too was a hotbed for rhino poaching till some years back. A total of 143 rhinos were killed by poachers during 1996-2006 when the country was ravaged by civil war.
While efforts undertaken to save the rhinos, which are prized for the horns, seems to have failed in Assam, Nepal is witnessing a success story.
This could be due to effective patrolling, use of army and police personnel to protect forests, surveillance by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and use of sniffer dogs for patrolling.
But problems still persist. Nepal continues to remain one of the main transit points for trade of wild animal products on way from India to China.
In the past year alone Nepali authorities nabbed 700 persons involved in poaching and trade of wild animals and recovered tiger bones, rhino horns, leopard skins and other animal products from their possession.