December 18, 2002
KATHMANDU, Nepal, December 18, 2002 (ENS) - Endangered and protected
wild species face threats to their survival in Nepal's national
parks as a result of continuous bloody violence by Maoist insurgents
for the past seven years. Since a state of emergency was imposed
on Nepal in December 2001, security forces have been reduced in
national parks and protected areas, which has encouraged poachers.
As a result, 33 one horned rhinos have been found dead in the
seven months from May through November. Twenty-nine of the rhinos
found dead in Royal Chitwan National Park in central Nepal, while
the other four died in Royal Bardiya National Park in western Nepal,
according to Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
Security check posts in and around Royal Chitwan National Park
have been reduced from 39 to 12 in the last few months, department
While conservation officials were compiling information
on loss of the rhinos, they were informed by park personnel that
Bengal tigers were found dead in Chitwan Park. The big cats, a
male and a female, were killed by poachers, according to officials,
who found the carcasses with many of their body parts missing.
"Poachers have accelerated their activities in the parks
areas since security check posts were reduced by more than two-thirds.
vigilance capacity in the national park is narrowed," says
an official at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.
say poachers killed 25 of the 33 dead rhinos, while eight lost
their lives in mutual clashes or other natural causes.
for conservationists is the fact that eight rhinos were killed
by poachers in one month's time - from mid-October
to mid-November. All these animals were found dead in Royal Chitwan
National Park, a World Heritage Site.
Valuable body parts like
horns and hides were missing from most of the rhino carcasses,
according to information provided by the
Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
use various methods to kill rhinos. In the past year anti-poaching
units at Chitwan Park have confiscated at least 24 traps placed
by the poachers. They use toe-chains and dig pits to trap rhinos,
and they also poison the animals.
"Poachers killed 11 of the giant animals with gun shots.
Poison and other weapons were used by the poachers to kill another
rhinos," the Parks and Wildlife Department said.
In the years
2000 and 2001 a total of 72 rhinos were found dead in Nepal's national
parks. During 1999, 40 rhinos lost their lives,
12 of these killed by poachers.
"The present trend suggests that we are going to lose huge
number of this wild species in the near future," worries zoologist
Dr. Mukesh Chalise.
Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which
are used in Chinese medicine. There is also a lucrative trade
in rhino hides and meat.
Poaching is a serious problem in the national
parks of the Tarai, Nepal's southern plains. Poachers take anything
that comes their
way, from fish in the rivers to deer, wild boar and one-horned
rhinos. Poaching was widespread in these forests before the
national parks were first set up. After the establishment of the
park in Chitwan in 1972, officials used a network of local
informants to round up poachers. Anti-poaching units that involve
people were established in 1992 in both Chitwan and Royal Bardia
Army battalions have been stationed in the national
parks, but army patrols are limited only to areas within the
Many endangered wild animals live in forests outside the
Forests outside park boundaries are under the jurisdiction
of the Department of Forests. Forest guards, trained to
keep an eye on poachers there.
The anti-poaching units
are supported by several national and international organizations.
Among the first organizations
to support the anti-poaching
units is the International Trust for Nature Conservation
raises funds from tourists visiting the parks.
Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation, a national nongovernmental
organization, also works closely with
the anti-poaching squads.
Only 1,800 one-horned rhinos
presently survive in the world, according to WWF, the conservation
found only in Nepal,
India and Bhutan.
Covering an area of 1,000 square
kilometers, Royal Chitwan National Park, established 30 years
with less than 80 animals. Huge investment and
strict conservation strategy allowed the rhino population
to increase in the
Chitwan is inhabited by some 580 one-horned rhinos.
A census in 1996 put the rhino population in the
Now there is a total of some 650 one-horned rhinos
in Nepal's national parks, including 62 in Royal
Bardia National Park
in the western
Nepal, according to a rhino census in 2000.