KATHMANDU : Conservation of the rare one-horned rhino is becoming more challenging due to human encroachment and lack of interest towards conservation.
Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park (CNP), Ananath Baral, admitted that it has become more challenging trying to conserve the one-horned rhino in recent periods. According to him, “problems have surfaced in the conservation of rhinos as they are attracted more to food crops planted in the farm even when proper arrangement has been mzming under human encroachment, he shared that, “there will be problems in the conservation of rhinos unless alternative arrangements are made for those encroaching upon their habitat.”
Additional complexities exist in the conservation of rhinos due to lack of implementation and commitment, Baral said. Similarly, former Chief Conservation Officer of the Park Kamaljung Kunwar, who spent a long time in rhino conservation, said that historical data shows how poaching of the one-horned rhino increases every 10 years.
Although the rhino poaching decreased between the 1970s and 1980s, it has been found to have increased in the succeeding decades, added Kunwar. He further said that this matter requires urgent attention to deter poachers from coming up with new strategies as they already know about Park Security Arrangement.
Kunwar stated that government bodies should move ahead by collaborating with local bodies and people and media to save the rhinos.
Chairperson of the Chitwan National Park Buffer Area Management Committee Prakash Dhungana, said that it is impossible to conserve rhinos without the support of everyone, and that it is necessary to spread awareness among the general public as well as political representatives for the conservation of rhinos.
Stating that people from poor backgrounds have been found to be involved in poaching due to financial strains, he said that the financial statuses of poor communities should be uplifted so that they do not engage in activities such as poaching.
The highest cases of poaching were recorded during the conflict period. A total of 37 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2002. Although cases of poaching have decreased in recent years, challenges still remain.
There is a provision of a maximum of 15 years jail term and a Rs 1 million fine or both for killing a rhino. However, more than 100 people involved in the poaching of wildlife have been absconding.
As per the census carried out in 2015, there were 645 rhinos. Of them, 605 were in the Chitwan National Park, which is famous for the one-horned rhino. A large number of domestic and foreign tourists visit the CNP to see the rhinos.