Conservation becoming more challenging


Conservation of the rare one-horned rhino is becoming challenging due to human encroachment and apathy.

Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park Ananath Bara said rhino conservation had become more challenging. He said, “The problem had surfaced as rhinos were attracted more to food crops even though the park had proper arrangement in place.”

Baral further said it would help in conservation of rhino if the crop system at buffer zone was changed. Saying that the main habitat of the rhino was being encroached, he added, “Rhino conservation would be problematic if alternative arrangement was not made for those encroaching the rhino’s habitat.”

More complexities have been faced due to lack of implementation of commitment in practice, Baral said.

Similarly, former Chief Conservation Officer of the Park, Kamaljung Kunwar, said data showed that rhino poaching was increasing every 10 years. Though the poaching decreased from 1970s to 1980s, it has increased in the succeeding decades, added Kunwar.

He further said attention should be paid as poachers might come with new strategy as they were familiar with the park’s security arrangement.

Kunwar opined that government bodies should move ahead in collaboration with the bodies concerned, including people and the media to save rhinos.

Chairperson of Chitwan National Park Buffer Area Management Committee Prakash Dhungana said it was impossible to conserve the rhino without support from all. It is necessary to spread positive message among people about rhino conservation by making people’s representatives and political representatives aware. He argued that though the first priority was humans, the benefits of wildlife 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 involved in poaching due to financial crisis, he said 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 poached in 2002. Though cases of poaching have decreased in recent years, challenges still remain.

There is a provision of maximum 15 years jail term and one million rupees fine or both for killing rhino. More than 100 people involved in poaching of wildlife have been absconding.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.