Rhino conservation abound with challengesRecently, a male rhino was found dead on the bank of the Narayani river in Chitwan National Park.
“The number of rhino deaths in the country is alarming. There has been some progress in rhino conservation, but we are still struggling,” said Ghimire. Old age, drowning, disease, territorial battles and electrocution are some of the primary reasons for the increasing number of rhino deaths in protected areas.
As per the data available at Chitwan National Park, 43 rhinos died in the last fiscal year whereas five rhinos have died in the first five months of the current fiscal year at the park.
Last year, a female rhino drowned after falling into a septic tank on the premises of Hotel Tiger Land in Jagatpur. Chitwan National Park filed a case of negligence against the hotel owners and employees—Ajit Bikram Shah, Pradhumna Ghimire, Kanti Thapa, Dil Bahadur Gurung and Bhashkar Bhattarai—nine months ago. Park officials claimed that the female rhino died due to the sheer negligence of the hotel.
However, a single bench of district judge Binod Kumar Gautam on Wednesday acquitted the accused, stating insufficient evidence to convict them of the rhino’s death. According to Prakash Thapa, spokesperson of the District Attorney Office in Chitwan, the case was filed under clause 26 of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973.
“The clause says that anyone who is found guilty of killing a rhino is liable to a fine of Rs 500,000 to Rs 1 million or can face imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both,” says Thapa.
On August 6, 2016, a rhino was electrocuted when an electric wire was left unattended after wielding works were completed for Hotel Meghauli Serai in Chitwan. The district court had fined four persons, including two senior hotel staff, over the mishap.
“There are plenty of challenges in conserving rhinos, and it’s not enough for a small group of people to work towards its conservation. The entire community should be aware of the importance of rhino conservation and should support the efforts,” said conservationist Ramprit Yadav.
According to the 2015 census, there are 645 rhinos in Nepal—605 in Chitwan, 29 in Bardia National Park, eight in Shuklaphanta National Park, and three in Parsa National Park.