Nepal achieves 21% increase in rhino numbers

Posted on
05 May 2015

Kathmandu, Nepal – Nepal’s rhino population has increased by an encouraging 21% 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 11 April-2 May. 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.”
The 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.
“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. “This achievement is an example in resilience for a nation that lost 37 rhinos to poaching in a single year in 2002, and an inspiration to continue strengthening efforts in delivering conservation impact.”
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.