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Thirty Nepal Rhinos to be Translocated

02 March 2016 | World Wildlife Fund-UK News Release

A greater one-horned rhino has been successfully introduced to a new home in Bardia National Park. The healthy adult male is the first of 30 rhinos to be translocated from Chitwan National Park in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) over the course of the next two years to secure a second, viable population.

In the coming days, four additional rhinos will make the journey in a larger effort to move healthy individuals to the western complex of TAL which includes Bardia National Park (25 rhinos) and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (5 rhinos). This is part of an overall goal to restore rhino numbers to the historical number of 800 in Nepal.

John Barker, Head of Asia Programmes at WWF-UK said:

“Translocations have been hugely successful in the past and this latest expedition is expected to build on these previous conservation wins. Bardia National Park is already home to a slowly recovering population but in order to continue to increase the number of healthy rhinos in this area we need to introduce more breeding individuals.”

“Nepal has set a strong precedent to other countries at a time when we are facing a worldwide poaching crisis, particularly for those iconic species such as rhinos, elephants and tigers. The commitments and efforts of the government, NGOs and communities has resulted in Nepal becoming a leader for conservation globally and we hope to see more countries follow in its footsteps.”

The translocation – which is essential to secure another stable population of greater one-horned rhino – involved the use of 33 elephants and a team of approximately 250 people. This is the latest success story in Nepal’s conservation achievements, the nation having celebrated 365 days of zero poaching of rhinos on three separate occasions since 2011.

The rhino was first tracked and sedated in Chitwan National Park on 1 March. He was then fitted with a satellite collar and loaded on to a specially designed truck to transport him safely to the fertile Babai Valley in Bardia National Park where he was released today (2nd March).

The expedition was led by the government’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation with the support of WWF Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal Army and local communities. The translocation was funded by WWF, USAID and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal said:

“Nepal has come a long way since 2002 when we lost 37 rhinos to poaching in a single year. With rhino populations at an all-time high in Nepal in 2015, the government, its conservation partners and local communities understand the need to double up efforts, the rhino translocations being one of them, to build a better future for this iconic species of Nepal.”

Notes to the Editor

Additional information:

Rhino translocation in Nepal dates back to 1986 when the first batch of 13 rhinos was translocated from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park. By 2003, 87 rhinos were translocated through seven separate events in Bardia National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. As a positive trend, 27 calves were born in Bardia between 1986 and 2000. However, in Babai Valley of Bardia National Park, where a majority of the rhinos had been translocated, almost all of the rhino population was wiped out on account of poaching during the peak insurgency period between 2002 and 2006.

Nepal achieved 365 days of zero poaching of rhinos on three separate occasions since 2011, and Nepal’s rhino population is in a growing trend with 645 rhinos recorded in the country based on the rhino count of 2015. In Bardia alone, rhino populations grew from 24 to 29 as compared to the previous count in 2011. This is primarily accounted for by the heightened security measures within protected areas; in Bardia alone, there are 33 guard posts that provide protection to iconic wildlife such as rhinos and tigers. Given top level commitment in rhino conservation, a well-coordinated protection response between the national parks, Nepal Army, Nepal Police and local communities, and the support of conservation partners such as WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal’s rhino population could well be on a growing trend in the backdrop of the successful rhino translocations.

About WWF

WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. WWF has been active in Nepal since the 1960s and remains committed to the vital work being done in the region to save its unique and irreplaceable biodiversity.
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