Chitwan National Park (CNP) records an average of one endangered one-horned rhinoceros’ death in every eight days.
According to information provided by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DoWCNP), Nepal’s largest wildlife habitat recorded 40 rhino deaths in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year between July-June. In comparison, the Himalayan nation recorded a total of only 30 one-horned rhino deaths in the entire previous fiscal.
CNP’s rhino deaths account for 89 percent of the total Nepal rhino deaths. Although the rhinos die of natural causes, the increasing number of deaths is alarming. This has urged park authorities to study the cause of increasing number of rhino deaths.
“We’ll soon conduct a study on carrying capacity of Chitwan National Park to find out reasons for high number of rhino deaths,” said Ram Chandra Kandel, DoWCNP Deputy Director General.
CNP will be conducting the study along with IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group, a group of Asian rhino experts.
“Experts from different countries will join our research scheduled to begin next week,” said Kandel.
The study will learn about CNP’s rhino capacity based on available resources, food chain and habitability in the park. It will also check if the impact of climate change, contamination of water and outbreak of unknown diseases is also contributing to rhino deaths.
“We have also noticed many rhinos being washed away during monsoon when rivers swell. The study will recommend ways to reduce the death of rhinos from natural disasters,” said Kandel.
Despite the increasing number of rhino deaths, the population of rhinos has not decreased say CNP park officials. The park records 50 rhino births every year.
Nepal recorded 800 rhinos in the year 1950. However, this number was drastically reduced to 100 in 1972 due to rampant poaching. After Chitwan National Park stepped up its conservation efforts, Nepal’s Rhino population increased to 645 in 2015.