Rhino census to be conducted in four national parks

CHITWAN: Government is set to conduct the long-awaited rhino census in Chitwan, Parsa, Bardiya and Shukla Phanta national parks.

It had been planned to conduct rhino census in 2018 after a large number of rhinos were swept away by the flood and many others died in natural disasters in 2017. However, the census was halted as the government did not allocate budget for the programme. Moreover, the nationwide lockdown was imposed at a time when preparations for the census were finalised.

Although the preparations concluded last year, training will have to be provided again for staff involved in the programme, Acharya said. Best time for the census is when grasses and foliage fall after winter and a new season begins, he informed.

Information officer Haribhadra Acharya at Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the authorised body for conducting rhino census across the country, said the census will be conducted in winter. He said, the department has allocated Rs 8 million for the programme.

Rhino census was conducted in the years 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2015 in the country. The last census carried out in 2015 showed the population of rare endangered one-horned rhino to be 605 in Chitwan while three other parks noted 40 rhinos.

Officer Acharya expressed his view that developing a strategy for the conservation of rhinos becomes easier after conducting a census.