Not a single rhino was poached inside the Chitwan National Park during the last fiscal year, 2071/72. The park has thrice celebrated zero-poaching year. Officials said they celebrate a zero-poaching year if there is no poaching for 365 days straight. But this is the first time that the national park has seen a zero-poaching fiscal year.
There was a time when the park saw 37 rhinos killed by poachers within one fiscal year.
The chief conservation officer at the park, Kamal Jung Kunwar, said no rhino has been poached at the national park since May 3, 2014 [Baisakh 20, 2071]. According to him, no rhino was killed by poachers in the 12 months of the Nepali year 2070. Park officials attributed the new development to growing awareness and cooperation among the local communities and park officials, and tight security.
According to the park office, fiscal year 2057/58 saw 37 rhinos poached. This is the highest number of rhinos killed in a year. At the height of the Maoist insurgency when the security posts inside the park were removed and the army personnel manning those stations were deployed to fight the insurgency, poaching had thrived. But since the fiscal year 2067/68, poaching incidents started to decrease markedly – only two rhinos were killed by poachers during that year.
In the past, only one battalion of the Nepal Army was providing security inside the park but since the past four years, a new brigade has also been deployed for park security.
Officials said activists of political parties at the local level have also become aware about wildlife conservation following the political change of April 2006.
According to the rhino census conducted in May, there are a total of 645 rhinos in various parks and conservation areas across the country. At 605, the largest rhino population resides insides Chitwan National Park. Poachers kill the rhinos for their horn, which fetches a high price in the black market. Under existing law, anyone guilty of killing a rhino is liable to up to 15 years in jail.