Rhino population up: Census report

KATHMANDU: The census of the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) that ended after three weeks of counting on Saturday revealed that the nation boasts of 534 rhinos, marking an increase of 99 from the 2008 census.

Sixty rhinos died in the last three years –28 were poached and the remaining deaths were due to natural causes.

The counting was carried out in three areas — Chitwan National Park (CNP), Bardia National Park (BNP) and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR). “This is indeed good news, but our challenge is to maintain this population in the days ahead by reducing poaching and enhancing rhino habitat,” said Krishna Prasad Acharya, Director General, DNPWC.

According to the census, 503 rhinos were recorded in Chitwan National Park (an increase of 95 from the 2008 data), 24 in Bardia National Park (an increase of two) and 7 in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (an increase of 2). The counting was carried simultaneously in CNP, BNP and SWR using more than fifty elephants. “The female rhino population is higher in all three areas. “Of the 534 rhinos, 194 are female, 152 are male and the sex of the remaining 188 could not be determined,” added Acharya.

CNP has around 95 per cent of the total number of rhinos in the country. In CNP, the rhino population had decreased from 544 in 2000 to 372 in 2005, the number again increased to 408 in 2008. The disappearance of huge swathes of alluvial grassland and massive poaching is the major threat to the species. “These numbers reflect the success of conservation efforts for this species and are a result of improved rhino protection measures and management of habitat,” said Shanta Raj Jnawali, rhino expert at National Trust for Nature Conservation.

The rhino census, supported by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is conducted every three years. “The rhino was brought back from the brink of extinction and with the support of conservation partners around the world, we will be able to save the species,” said Ghanashyam Gurung, Conservation Director, WWF.

Rhino population

Year Number

1950 800

1994 466

2000 612

2005 446

2008 435

2011 534


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