The population of one-horned rhinos in the sanctuaries of Nepal has seen an upward trend. The BBC reports an increase of nearly 100 since 2015. This is established by the result of the latest census. Such an increase speaks volumes for the conservation efforts taken by the authorities of Nepal. This Himalayan country is one where this species of wildlife exists. They were close to extinction in the last century and Nepal and India deserve credit for reversing the trend.

The BBC mentions that most of the rhinos are in the Chitwan National Park. This is home to other species of wildlife and, in view of the rise in numbers of rhinos, its status has improved from endangered to vulnerable.

In the opinion of Nepali officials, the Coronavirus pandemic helped the animals and their habitat. The authorities imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. It came as a blessing in disguise for the rhinos because it provided them a chance to roam freely without the interference of tourists. Of course, poachers were active and they killed four animals last year. It is a pity that such a huge animal has to die because of its horn. These are believed to have medicinal properties and fetch enormous prices in the international market.

Counting the rhinos

The coronavirus pandemic led to a postponement of the rhino census. Its frequency is once every five years and It was due in 2020.

Teams of experts and officials of the forest department undertake the exercise. They have to Travel deep into the forest and carry out a visual headcount based on certain parameters. A few of these are the shape of the ears and folds of the skin. The BBC explains the difficulties they have to face because they have to move about on elephants which are the only form of transportation.

The park is spread over nearly 367 square miles and the members have to keep their eyes open to locate the rhinos. They have to also be on the alert for signs of danger from tigers and other wild animals.

Factors that led to dropping of rhino population

The recent rise in the number of rhinos is a positive sign. Nepal was home to a thousand rhinos.

However, local political issues and settlement of people around the park led to a decline in their population. These included natural causes like disease, death from old age, victims of territorial fights, and drowning during floods. Apart from these, there were man-made losses due to poaching, deforestation, and loss of habitat. The BBC attributes the subsequent increase in numbers to strict anti-poaching measures and protection of forest areas by the administration. In October 2018, China decided to lift the ban on tiger and rhino products.

The rhino is under threat from poachers due to its horn

According to CNN, the population of one-horned rhinos in Nepal has increased. It could be an effect of the pause in tourism due to coronavirus.

The absence of domestic and international travelers to the national parks ensured their habitats were not disturbed. Conservationists feel that helped the rhinos to regenerate. Other factors include investment in habitat management, controlling poaching, and relocating the animals between habitats. Poachers target rhinos for their horns, which is used in traditional Asian medicine. The horn can grow up to 8.25 inches and it does not possess any medical or therapeutic benefit. The International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List has categorized the greater one-horned rhino as a vulnerable species. There are fewer than 2,200 of them in India and Nepal. They are already extinct in Bangladesh and Bhutan.