By Deepak Adhikari
In a nation where a civil war and years of political deadlock have stunted prosperity and development, the burgeoning rhino population is one of Nepal's rare success stories.
The Himalayan country's endangered one-horned rhinoceros has increased its numbers significantly over recent years thanks to tightened security against poachers and community conservation programs.
Wildlife experts spent a month last year conducting an exhaustive survey and counted 534 rhinos in Nepal's southern forests — 99 more than when the last such census was carried out in 2008.
"Despite all the hardship during the unrest in the country, we continued our support to the fullest extent to control poaching of rhinos and we are glad that our efforts have yielded positive results," said Diwakar Chapagain of WWF Nepal's wildlife trade control program.
The wildlife organization, which has been involved in anti-poaching and anti-trafficking programs as well as habitat research for more than 30 years, expects numbers to keep improving. The picture was not always so positive.
Thousands of greater one-horned rhinos, also known as the Indian rhinoceros, once roamed Nepal and northern India but their numbers plunged over the last century due to poaching and human encroachment on their habitat.
The animals are killed for their horns, which are prized for their reputed medicinal qualities in China and southeast Asia. More....