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No rhinos were killed in Nepal in the past two years. Here’s how it happened

Over 730 days have passed since the last rhino was killed in Nepal. Let’s discover the secrets of the country that set an example for the whole world.

The five species of rhino that survive in Africa and Asia – descendants of the over 30 rhino species roaming the Earth more than 60 million years ago – are critically endangered and could become extinct in less than 30 years. These ancient creatures are mostly threatened by poaching and are killed for their horns, whose price has skyrocketed in the black market. While Africa is finding new and extreme solutions to protecting these animals, there’s an island of happiness where rhinos are already safe: Nepal.

 

rhino nepal
Rhinos enjoy the freshness of a puddle in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

 

In the last two years no rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) have been killed by poachers in the small Himalayan country; the last killing dates back to the 2nd of May 2014. The mountainous nation located between China and India has achieved the incredible goal of “zero poaching”. And this is the first time Nepal has reached this objective for two consecutive years, which has led to an increase in the rhino population to 645 individuals, the highest recorded number in the country so far. Let’s discover how Nepal succeeded in achieving this extraordinary goal, compared to many countries that failed.

 

Cooperation

“This exceptional success is based on a combination of high-level political will, and the active involvement of the park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, conservation partners and local communities,” Krishna P. Acharya, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation spokesperson explains.

 

tracking collar rhino
People sedate a rhino to take its measurement and install a tracking collar to monitor the species © Nilanga Jayasinghe

The role of local communities in protecting rhinos

Cross-national wildlife crimes have been curbed thanks to institutions as well as local communities, which managed about a third of the country’s forests thus reducing poverty and protecting biodiversity. Local empowerment and involvement in the protection of natural resources was a fundamental aspect of tackling poaching. In addition, more than 50 per cent of the income generated by national parks is invested in community development activities, including the construction of schools and infrastructure that indirectly contributes to preserving wildlife.

 

New forms of patrolling

Nepal’s measures to protect wildlife have been implemented in national parks as well as in neighbouring areas with traditional methods that use new approaches. For example, SMaRT, the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool that monitors wildlife, collects and manages data and plans activities.

 

The six pillars of zero poaching

The successful measures to protect wildlife in Nepal are based on six key pillars: assessment, capacity, community, cooperation, prosecution and technology. Protected area authorities can now access the Zero Poaching toolkit, which contains the best available anti-poaching tools.

 

Nature nepal
Nepal is home to 10 national parks, 3 nature reserves and 6 protected areas covering about 23 per cent of the country, an area larger than the US State of Maryland. The parks are home to extraordinary creatures including tigers, bears, rhinos, Ganges river dolphins and elephants © Susheel Shrestha/WWF-Nepal

 

“Nepal was a great role model in zero poaching, with its success we can only hope that we will see a ripple effect in the rest of Asia”, said Nepal’s Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation Sharad Chandra Paudel. Now the only thing to do is follow the path traced by this small country nestled in the mountains.

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