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One Horned Rhino

One Horned Rhino If Nepal is known for something else, apart from MtEverest and Lumbini, it must be rhinos. This small countryis a proud habitat of around 400 rhinos, despite all thethreats the mammals are facing nowadays. This must bethe reason that the government as well as non-government institutions in Nepal have been showingspecial interest for conservation of this one-hornedmammals, at least in past several decades.Rhino conservation effortsNepal used to possess over 800 rhinos in 1950s. Thenumber was halved in seven years – there were only 400rhinos in 1957. The number turned mere 100 by the year1966. Then it grew in exemplary rate, thanks to joint effortsof the government and the international conservationinstitutions. Conservation became a glorious issue whenthe government decided to make Chitwan a national parkin1973. By the year 2000, it became 612. This was thetime when the government came up with creative ideaslike translocation of rhinos. A total of 87 rhinos weretranslocated from Chitwan National Park (CNP) to BardiaNational Park (BNP) and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve(SWR) from 1986 to 2003. It was an endeavour to expandrhino populations and their habitat in other protectedareas as well.The Rhino Count -1994 recorded a population size of 466,which later increased to 544 individuals in Rhino Count-2000 in CNP alone. This indeed was an award forNepal’s successful conservation campaign. The declineHowever, new millennium brought dark days for rhinos. Along with the encroachment in rhino habitats andrampant poaching, the population of rhinos came under aconstraint threat. The number of 612 rhinos of 2000reduced to 446 in 2005.Whenever the conservationists talk about rhinopopulation, they are hardly univocal. Some institutions tryto make it an issue by bringing hidden informationforward, while the government, as usual, does its best tohide the most apparent issues. Thus, the rhino statisticscannot avoid going through controversies. At present, it isestimated that CNP owns as many as 372 rhinos while itis all uncertain to say anything about the rhino populationin BNP as some has doubted whether there are any rhinoleft, while the government is still claiming there are asmany as 86.MarketThe poaching of rhino is on because there is market.Nepal has been quoted among international seminars asa safe haven to international trade of rhino horns. It isinformed that top-level politicians make pressure to thesecurity to have the convicted poachers released. Thoughthe shooters and killers get nominal price for their crime,one kg of rhino horn costs Rs 3.5 million in internationalillegal trade market.