Nepal Achieves 21 Percent Increase in Rhino Numbers and Another Year of Zero Poaching of Rhinos
Nepal’s rhino population has increased by an encouraging 21 percent based on the rhino count data released by the Government of Nepal today. There are now presently 645 rhinos as compared to the 2011 estimate of 534 rhinos in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.
The rhino count was conducted in Chitwan National Park, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Bardia National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and their buffer zones in the Terai Arc Landscape from April 11 to May 2. The count was led by the government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests in collaboration with WWF Nepal and National Trust for Nature Conservation.
“The encouraging results of the rhino count are a boost to Nepal’s conservation efforts, even while the country tries to come to terms with the devastating earthquake that shook the nation,” stated Tika Ram Adhikari, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
“This achievement follows Nepal’s recent success in achieving 365 days of zero poaching of rhinos for a third time within five years, and underscores the commitment of the government, national and international conservation partners and the local communities to work together for a better future of our iconic species.”
Nepal marked another 365-day period without a rhino being poached on May 2. A coordinated response from central to grassroots level, and heightened protection measures within Protected Areas, buffer zones and community forests, including the use of new technologies such as SMART and real-time SMART patrolling, played a critical role in Nepal’s latest zero poaching success.
Nepal was first able to achieve 365 days of zero poaching for rhinos in 2011, and subsequently for rhinos, tigers and elephants for the 12 months ending in February 2014. It is a remarkable turnaround given that 37 rhinos were poached in 2002 alone.
“The encouraging growth in rhino numbers reflects the success of conservation efforts for this species and are a result of improved rhino protection measures and management of habitat,” stated Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal.
“Stories such as this also provide a much-needed ray of hope for people to believe that although the ground may have shaken beneath their feet, they still stand tall, undeterred and driven to build back a country that inspires the world.”
The rhino count was conducted using a sweep operation by mobilizing 54 elephants and 267 trained observers, which included wildlife biologists, technical staff from national parks and wildlife reserves, National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF Nepal, together with representatives from the Nepal Army and local communities.
The population estimate was based on individual rhino information identifying unique and special characteristics of each rhino such as shape and horn size, folds present on the neck and rump, and body markings. As a pilot, the count also made use of a mobile-based platform developed by the Nepal Army whereby rhino data and images were captured using cell phones on-site and stored at the park headquarters in Chitwan in real-time.
WWF provided both technical and financial support, through WWF US, WWF UK, Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) and the USAID-funded Hariyo Ban Program, to the government for the rhino count.
WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. WWF has been active in Nepal since the 1960s and remains committed to the vital work being done in the region to save its unique and irreplaceable biodiversity.
Learn more at www.wwfnepal.org
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