The March census on the population of one-horned rhinoceros at the Chitwan National Park found 408 rhinos, as compared to 372 three years ago. This, at a time when incidents of poaching are on the increase at the two main rhino habitats in Nepal, the Chitwan National Park and the Bardiya National Park. In the latest incident, two French tourists were reportedly rebuffed by the chief warden at Bardiya when they approached him to report on the poaching of two rhinos, on April 4 and 23, respectively.
The concerned officials at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation are well aware that
“coordination among security bodies, political parties and local communities” is what is called for to control poaching. But if the incident with the French duo is any indicator, those involved in conservation efforts are either incapable of bringing the poachers to the book or unwilling to do so for different reasons. THT recently reported that around 30 Nepali Army personnel are punished each year for helping poachers. Conservationists, meanwhile, lament that those entrusted with guarding rhino habitats have no clear framework to guide their actions. Everyone, it seems, is unclear about what exactly needs to be done to stem the gruesome practice. Now is the time to put those plans and policies into action. If the existing ones do not work, alternatives should be devised.