Rhinos at risk

Published: Saturday 31 May 2003

-- The alarming rise in poaching in Nepal's national parks is threatening to derail the country's success in rhinoceros conservation. A total of 48 rhinos have died since April 2002, according to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC). While most of the pachyderms fell prey to poachers, some were either electrocuted by irate local farmers or died due to other causes.

Trading in rhino horns is a lucrative proposition for poachers since they are used to make traditional Chinese medicines. The unstable socio-political situation in Nepal in recent years has led to a surge in poaching, allege DNPWC officials. To check the rhino carnage, the department has activated anti-poaching operations in the parks and reserves across the country.

The total rhinoceros population in Nepal's protected areas was estimated at 612 by a study conducted in 2000. But with almost 50 rhinos dying each year, their annual mortality rate is climbing in a disconcerting manner.

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