Six rhinos found dead in Chitwan National Park within first month of this fiscal yearThe deaths—whether due to natural causes, poaching or other accidents—are a cause for concern, conservationists say.
Six rhinos have been found dead in Chitwan National Park within a month of the current fiscal year, according to the data of the park.
The rhino deaths—whether due to natural causes, poaching or other accidents—in Chitwan are a cause of concern, conservationists say.
On July 26, a rhino carcass was found in a state of decay at Tunamuna Khola in Madi. Park officials suspect that the rhino might have been killed for its horn.
“The rhino was found without its horn. Doctors suspect that smugglers might have killed the rhino and took its horn,” said Ananath Baral, chief conservation officer of the park.
The post mortem report shows that the rhino was killed around two-and-a-half months ago. “There was a hole in the rhino’s skull with cut marks and the horn is missing. That is why we suspect that the rhino was killed for its horn,” said Baral.
The one-horned rhino found in the park is an endangered species that is at risk of extinction. One is jailed up to 15 years and fined up to Rs 1 million if they are found guilty of poaching a rhino and smuggling its body part.
On July 23, a female rhino was found dead at Harinagar in the Ghangar area of the park.
“We believe the rhino died of natural causes, as the horn and other body parts were found intact,” said Baral.
On August 4, another female rhino was found dead in Ward No. 7 of Kawasoti Municipality of the park. The horn and other body parts of the rhino were also found intact. Officials believe the rhino died of natural causes.
In recent years, rhino deaths caused by old age, drowning, diseases and territorial battles among the animals have increased significantly.
The government record puts deaths into two broad categories—natural/unknown and poaching. As per its category, all deaths, including territorial clash, drowning, injuries, old age, diseases and everything other than poaching, are defined as natural.
Officials have linked the rising number of natural deaths with the growth in the rhino population.
“The increasing number of rhinos in the park while the habitat remains limited has been attributed to the rise in rhino deaths. Shrinking habitat results in fighting between rhinos,” said Baral.
In August, the skeletal remains of another rhino were found at Amrite in the eastern part of the national park. According to park officials, the rhino’s horn was missing.
“We don’t know the cause of death of the rhino. It might have been killed or died of natural causes,” Baral said.
Similarly, a male rhino of about 30 years and a rhino calf were recovered dead in the park forests on July 19. The park administration said the male rhino died of natural causes while the calf was killed in an attack by a tiger.
Meanwhile, a male rhino died in a fight with another rhino in Dudhaura of the park on July 22.
Park officials say as many as 32 rhinos died or were killed in Chitwan National Park in the last fiscal year 2020/21. Four among them were killed by poachers.
Chitwan National Park is home to the biggest rhino population in the country. The population of one-horned rhinos stands at 752 in Nepal as per the latest census report made public in April this year. Chitwan is home to 694 rhinos, an increase of 89 since the last census in 2015. The number of rhinos, which fell sharply in the 1950s and 60s, started to rebound after the establishment of the Chitwan National Park in 1973.