Rhino census starts in Nepal
Published: Mar 23, 2021 06:37 PM

Visitors watch a rhino at the Central Zoo in Lalitpur, Nepal, Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo by Sulav Shrestha/Xinhua)

Visitors watch a rhino at the Central Zoo in Lalitpur, Nepal, Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo by Sulav Shrestha/Xinhua)

The Nepali government started census of the rhinoceros population on Monday in Chitwan National Park and Parsa National Park in central Nepal.

The census carried out every five years was supposed to be done last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last counting of the endangered species was done in 2015 when 645 rhinos were found across Nepal with 605 living in Chitwan National Park alone.

"The census has commenced Monday. We hope to complete the counting next three weeks," Haribhadra Acharya, spokesperson at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told Xinhua. "The results will be out within a month."

Acharya said the counting in Bardiya National Park and Shuklaphanta National Park will start on Wednesday and Friday respectively. The rhinoceros were spotted in the four national parks located in southern plains of the Himalayan nation.

As many as 300 people with an expertise in wildlife have been mobilized while 60 elephants are being used for travel in the jungle for the counting. The department had conducted a necessary training before starting the census.

Inaugurating the census at a ceremony held in the village of Sauraha in the Chitwan region, Minister for Forests and Environment Prem Bahadur Ale said he was very concerned about an increase in the death toll of rhinoceros.

"Rhinoceros have an immense contribution in Nepal's tourism as a huge number of tourists come to Nepal to see them," he said. "I direct all the concerned authority to take strong measures to control the poaching."

As many as 26 rhinos have been killed, including four by poachers in the current fiscal year beginning July 2020. Nepal started its rhino census from 1994 and this year marks the seventh of its kind.

Some 12.5 million Nepalese rupees (about 108,000 US dollars) are planned to be spent in the rhino population census.