Great News for the Global Rhino Community

The National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in Nepal has announced the number of one-horned rhinos has grown by one hundred in the last 6 years. The total number across the country now stands at 752, rising from 645 in 2015.

In India and Nepal, where the one-horned rhino calls home, numbers have increased in total to 3,700.

The Near Extinct Nepal Rhino Populations Rise to New High

A 8-25 inch long singular horn is distinctive to the rhino whose scientific name is ‘Rhinoceros Unicornis’. Roaming around floodplain grasslands, savannas and shrublands across northern India and southern Nepal, each one-horned rhino weighs in at around 4,000 to 6,000 pounds!

In recent decades the one-horned rhino came very close to extinction facing dwindling numbers from hunting. Their Nepal population fell to around 100 in the 1960s

Due to their rising numbers, the one-horned rhino has been moved from the category ‘endangered’ to ‘vunerable’. The exceptional efforts to resurrect the rhino’s population numbers has been dubbed “among the greatest conservation success stories in Asia” and a “milestone” for Nepal conservation. 

The Cornavirus pandemic has been said to have helped the rhino population as the lack of tourists has allowed them greater freedom within the parks where they live. 

“The increase of rhinos is exciting news for us,” the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation’s information officer, Haribhadra Acharya said, “But we have challenges ahead to expand the habitat areas of this animal to maintain the growth”. 

One-horned rhino population growth rates have fluctuated within this time period as between 2011 and 2015 there was a high of 5 percent, dropping to 3 percent in the following survey, demonstrating conservation efforts are not over yet. 

The Challenges Ahead for One-Horned Rhinos

The one-horn rhino remains at risk from poaching, as their horns are sold in many parts of the world for ‘medicinal’ purposes. Poaching is just one of many factors which continue to affect the rhino population. From human impacts such as war and unrest to environmental causes including flooding, since 2015 160 rhinos have died, with 26 lost in 2020 alone. 

There is still much work to be done as the one-horned rhino population remains vulnerable, however, this is a win we can celebrate for now.  

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Annie is a Master's student at UCL studying Gender, Society and Representation. She is passionate about people, and hopes to work in the third sector following her studies.

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