Nepal’s Endangered Rhino Population Has Grown By 16%

In positive news, Nepal’s population of endangered one-horned rhinoceros has shown a promising 16% increase over the past six years.

According to the National Rhino Count 2021, the current population of the species stands at 752 individuals compared to the 2015 estimate of 645. The National Rhino Count 2021 took place from March 22 to April 10, and covered rhino range areas within the country—including four national parks such as Chitwan.

The count was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, mobilizing over 57 elephants and 350 technicians and trained personnel who did sweeps across jungle areas to document numbers based on a headcount.

Populations estimates are based on individual rhino information collected—categorized based on statistics such as sex, age group, and unique identifying features. During the process data on habitat conditions, invasive species in the area, and human activities in the region are also collected.

“The overall growth in population size is indicative of ongoing protection and habitat management efforts by protected area authorities despite challenging contexts these past years,” said Ghana Gurung, Country Representative of WWF Nepal in a statement from the NGO.

“This achievement is yet another milestone in Nepal’s conservation journey showcasing the impact of concerted efforts of all stakeholders and providing much needed impetus to the global conservation fraternity.”

Thousands of one-horned rhinos were once seen in the southern plains of Nepal, but poaching and humans reducing available habitat affected their numbers, so that by the 1960s there were only around 100 left in the country.

Every half decade, Nepal takes up the immense task of counting its rhinos to monitor their status in the wild. The rhino count supports the assessment of management effectiveness in these regions and guides the nation’s rhino conservation strategy.