By Bhusan Yadav
A nation-wide rhino census began on Saturday in Chitwan National Park (CNP), Parsa Wildlife Reserve (PWR), adjoining buffer zones and surrounding forests in Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Parsa districts.
As part of the nation-wide count conducted in every four years, the month-long census kicked off from CNP, PWR and adjoining forests where a total of 34 elephants and 40 technical staffers were mobilised.
The potential rhino habitat was divided into 19 blocks for the purpose, using equipment such as camera, Global Positioning System, binoculars and mobile phones. Besides CNP and PWR, the counting will also take palce in other major rhino habitats including Bardiya National Park and Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, according to the officials. The census is estimated to cost around Rs 7-8 million.
The last census conducted in 2011 put the total rhino population in the country at 534, up from 435 in 2008. The CNP alone recorded 503 rhinos during the period.
“A regular monitoring of rhino population, their status and the state of potential habitats is important for the long-term rhino conservation. It helps the government and concerned partners to come up with relevant interventions in their conservation from poaching, illegal trade and habitat disturbances,” said Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya at the inauguration of the count in Chitwan on Saturday. The rhino count in BNP and SWR will be performed from April 15 and April 18 respectively.
Nepal has celebrated zero-poaching years in 2011 and 2013 when not a single rhino was killed by poachers. The successful feat in rhino conservation in Nepal has been hailed at the global level with various recognitions.