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SOS Rhino : In the News : Second rhino killed in Chitwan in six months

Second rhino killed in Chitwan in six months

Kantipur Online

Sunachari, Royal Chitawan National Park, Oct 19 - The killing of a second rare brown rhino by poachers inside six months in the Royal Chitwan National Park has left local resort owners and safari guides worried questioning the level of protection and conservation given to such endangered animals.

In yet another case of poaching for wildlife articles, one of the few surviving rhinos roaming the area was found shot and dehorned in the national park last Friday. 

“Two shots were heard at around 2:00 pm and we were hoping that it was not yet another poaching attempt,” said the manager of a resort operating in Sunachari area of the park. 

The rhino, lying in a pool of blood and still struggling to stay alive, was subsequently found by an elephant safari team. 

The park authorities were informed immediately but a team comprising of Assistant Warden Kamal Jung Kunwar arrived at the scene only the next day. According to park officials, the rhino was shot in the neck by a homemade handgun indicating the possible involvement of local people.

Estimated to be between 4 -5 years of age, the park authorities said that the rhino would not have had a horn more than 3 inches high. “This shows the desperation and the gravity of the illegal trade of wild life animal organs,” one of the park officials remarked.

“Only if the park management improves will we not be so shamelessly loosing our invaluable wild life possessions like this,” said one safari guide operating in the area.

Sishaughari, the place where the rhino was killed, is within 2 Kms distance from a Ranger Quarter Post established by the park. But officials said that the post was established just as an administrative outfit to monitor the tourists visiting and residing in the area and to collect park fees from the resorts.

According to park officials, severe cuts in the number of security patrols in the park have hugely affected anti-poaching activities. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one official informed that the patrol area has also increased considerably due to the merging and reorganizing of security posts in the park.

“It is not as if nothing has been done” said Kunwar. “More than 90 poachers are languishing in jails of Birgunj, Chitawan and Kathmandu but poaching has become a family activity at the grass roots. If one member of the family is caught poaching another one gets in on the act. We have seen both fathers and sons behind bars but again another son is found to be involved,” he added.

As per the latest rhino census conducted a few months ago the number of rhinos in the park stands at 372. This is a number only marginally higher than what it used to be about ten years ago. Experts say that had the animal been conserved successfully its population would have stood at around 700 plus. 

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