Rhino count kicks off in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape

Posted on
12 April 2015

Chitwan, Nepal – Nepal’s rhino count was initiated in the Chitwan-Parsa Complex in the Terai Arc Landscape on 11 April under the leadership of 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 expected outcomes of the count are an updated population and distribution status of rhinos in Nepal, a comparative analysis of 2011 and 2015 data, and an updated status of rhino growth rate in Nepal. The 2011 count estimated 534 rhinos in Nepal, a growth of 22% compared to 2008.
“The resounding success of Nepal achieving 365 days of zero poaching twice since 2011 is a positive sign for rhinos,” stated Tika Ram Adhikari, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. “We are hopeful that this year’s rhino count results reinforce Nepal’s commitment to protect its iconic species.”
The count will be conducted using a sweep operation by mobilizing 40 trained observers (including 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 34 elephants. The observers will record individual rhino information together with GPS locations on data-sheets based on 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 will also make use of a mobile-based platform to complement the paper-based one whereby rhino data and images will be captured using cell phones on-site and stored at the park headquarters in Chitwan in real-time.
“Nepal has come a long way since its dark period in conservation where we lost 37 rhinos to poaching in a single year in 2002,” stated Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “A growing rhino population over the years with strengthened protection and conservation efforts is indeed a testimony of collaborative working from the national to the grassroots level.”
Chitwan-Parsa Complex (which includes Parsa Wildlife Reserve and Chitwan National Park and their buffer zone and community forests) has been divided into 19 blocks with 10 camp sites for the count which is expected to be complete in 25 days. Together with the complex, the rhino count will also be conducted in Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.
WWF is providing both technical and financial support, through WWF UK, Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) and the USAID-funded Hariyo Ban Program, to the government for the rhino count.