Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nepal's Rhino Population Increases 20% in Two Years

Photo courtesy: Steve Hicks/Creative Commons via TreeHugger

There are still a small number of rhinos in Nepal; but, there's some good news: A new census of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornus) shows the population there now stands at 534, an increase of 99 individuals since the last time the census was conducted, in 2008. Another way of looking at it is that the Indian Rhino population has increased 20% in the last two years. What a magnificent improvement. In a fight to prevent this species from becoming extinct, where every single life is precious, an increase of 99 individuals is definitely worth reporting.

As WWF (World Wildlife Federation) reports, 503 of Nepal's rhinos are found in Chitwan National Park, 24 in Bardia National Park, and 7 in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. The 7 found in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve may seem low until you realize that in 2008 there were just 2 there.

This latest rhino census was conducted by Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, WWF Nepal, and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.

The pink area is the historical range of Rhinoceros unicornus; the small red dots are where Indian rhinos currently live. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia via TreeHugger

As is the case with rhino populations across the border in India, as well as across Africa and Southeast Asia, the main threats to rhinos come from poaching for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Even though rhino horn has been removed from the official TCM (traditional chinese medicine) pharmacopeia with alternatives encouraged; and, trade in rhino horn banned under international law, demand for rhino horn remains high. Habitat loss due to expansion of areas under human settlement is also a concern, especially in South and Southeast Asia. Very few rhinos survive outside reserves and national parks.

Via TreeHugger

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