An ambitious new plan to save the one-horned Asian rhino in Nepal is today being announced by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal and Nepalese Government.
The Nepalese rhino population has declined dramatically over the last ten years and the current population is estimated to be less than four hundred individuals.
Dr Richard Kock, ZSL Conservation Programme Manager, commented, “This is a fantastic step forward for the conservation this charismatic species.”
Funded with a Darwin Initiative grant from the UK Government, the new plan will involve:
• Anti-poaching and surveying work by specially trained rangers on elephant-back
• Restructuring of the current reserves to ensure more effective protection of the rhino populations, including assessing and managing invasive species in the reserves to improve the environment for all threatened species
• Working in the local communities surrounding the three reserves to encourage active conservation and discourage poaching
• Assessing the current populations to determine the most effective way of ensuring the most viable and successful populations
The recent changes in the political situation in Nepal, from political autocracy and Maoist rebellion to representative government, has resulted in a situation where ZSL and other organisations can work with the new Nepalese government to address threats to wildlife and to rhino in particular.
Dr Kock, added, “The shift in government towards a more inclusive democracy in Nepal mean that we can finally start to address the current conservation crisis. In the last ten years, poaching has threatened to completely wipe out the rhino population, but the recent shift in political situation is finally offering a glimmer of hope. The new Nepalese Government will be working closely with the Zoological Society of London, along with a consortium of partners from Nepal and elsewhere, to continue to develop a sustainable, long-term conservation plan that will safeguard the future of the species.”
The rhinos of Nepal are Greater one-horned Asian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis), which are currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and are ranked 74 on the EDGE list. The large decline in rhino numbers in Nepal in recent years is a result of poaching, which increased significantly in the unstable political climate.
ZSL will be working with the foremost Nepalese conservation charity, the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Nepalese government departments and other NGOs.