Greater one-horned rhinos in the Eastern Himalayas have reason to celebrate. The work of WWF and its partners has resulted in three recent successes for the threatened species.
Zero rhinos poached
The Himalayan country of Nepal celebrated an extraordinary achievement—zero rhinos poached during 2011. The government of Nepal, WWF and various other conservation organizations marked the occasion on January 7, 2012. Six different institutions were recognized for their efforts with Enforcement Awards as part of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative. WWF continues to help in efforts to curb poaching at Chitwan National Park in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape, home to a majority of the country’s rhinos.
Lost and found
A female rhino presumed lost from Manas National Park in India led conservationists, park staff and security personnel on a several week long chase in November 2011. It began when the monitoring team lost contact with the radio collar fitted on the rhino. There was a possibility that she had crossed into Bhutan, but the staff from Manas National Park and WWF were determined to locate the missing animal. After searching on foot for almost 100 miles, burning 132 gallons of fuel and camping for nearly 14 days, the missing rhino was found safe and sound, wallowing in a pond inside the park.
A new home
Two rhinos were relocated to Manas National Park on January 8, 2012. The overnight journey through Assam included an experienced team of vets and park staff under police protection. The two rhinos join eight other rhinos that have been translocated to Manas National Park since 2008. This was part of the ambitious Indian Rhino Vision 2020, a joint program of the Government of Assam, WWF, US Fish and Wildlife Services and the International Rhino Foundation. The rhinos will be monitored closely to ensure they adapt to their new surroundings.
WWF’s work continues
“The really sobering fact is that all of these achievements will amount to very little if we don’t also reduce the global demand for rhino horns,” says Shubash Lohani of WWF’s Eastern Himalayas program.
Considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, greater one-horned rhinos number around 2,900 in India and Nepal. Their numbers continue to decline as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are used for folk cures and believed to cure cancer in some Asian countries.
“The successes that rhino conservation enjoyed this past year in the Eastern Himalayas were made possible by keeping our eyes on the prize. From reducing poaching to securing new rhino populations, we were able to do so because of our long investment in partnerships with people from grassroots to governments,” says Lohani.