Narayan Adhikari, Sept.22: Conservation of the rare one-horned rhino is becoming challenging. It is so due to human encroachment and lack of interest towards its conservation.
Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park (CNP), Ananath Baral, accepted that it has become more challenging in conservation of one-horned rhino in the recent period. He said, “Problem has surfaced in conservation of rhino as rhinos are attracted more to the food crops planted in the farm even if proper arrangement is made inside the park for them.”
Baral further said that it would help in conservation of rhino if crop system could be changed at buffer zone. Saying the main habitat of the rhino is coming under human encroachment, he shared, “There will be problem in conservation of rhinos unless arrangement of alternatives is made for those encroaching upon the rhino’s habitat .”
More complexities have been faced in conservation of rhinos in lack of implementation of commitment in practice, Baral said.
Similarly, former Chief Conservation Officer of the Park, Kamaljung Kunwar, who spent long time in rhino conservation, said that looking at the history, the data shows that poaching of the one-horned rhino has been increasing in every 10 years.
Though the incident of poaching of rhino decreased in 1970s to 1980s, it has been found increased in the succeeding decades, added Kunwar.
He further said that attention should be paid as poachers might come with new strategy as they have already known about Park Security Arrangement. Kunwar opined that the government bodies should move ahead collaborating with bodies concerned including people and media to save rhinos.
Chairperson of Chitwan National Park Buffer Area Management Committee, Prakash Dhungana, said that it was impossible to conserve rhino without support of all. It is necessary to spread positive message among general people for the conservation of rhino by making people’s representatives and political representatives aware regarding this.
He, however, argued that the first priority is human being, the benefits of wildlife and international significance could not be overlooked.
Dhungana further said, “We have received not only food, but also relief due to wildlife.” Saying people from poor background have been found involved in poaching due to financial crisis, he said that the financial status of the poor community should be uplifted to control poaching.
The highest cases of poaching were recorded during the conflict period. A total of 37 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2002. Though cases of poaching have decreased in recent years, challenges still remained.
There is a provision of maximum 15 years jail term and Rs 1 million fine or both on the charge of killing rhino. More than 100 people involved in poaching of wildlife have been absconding.
As per the census carried out in 2015, there were 645 rhinos. Of them, 605 were in CNP. Chitwan National Park is famous for the one-horned rhino. A large number of domestic and foreign tourists visit the CNP to see rhino.