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Miracle rhino birth

Monday, September 6th, 2010
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mother and calf- NTNCWildlife conservationists are celebrating the discovery of the first rhino calf known to be born in Bardia National Park since the clampdown on poaching two years ago.

The female greater one-horned rhino calf was spotted with its mother on a dead tree in the middle of a river by a elephant-back patrol recently. The calf was transported back to Park headquarters in Kasara, where it is being treated for a broken leg.

Anti-poaching and monitoring patrols have been carried out by the Department for National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), with support from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and a grant from the Darwin Initiative.

Dr Rajan Amin, Senior Field Conservation Biologist at ZSL, said: “With so few rhinos left in Nepal, every new calf is crucial to securing the long-term survival of the species. The rhino also act as an umbrella species for the grassland ecosystem; by conserving them, we’re protecting the whole ecosystem which services other species – including ourselves.”

Nepal’s rhino population has come under intense pressure in the last decade, as poaching has been facilitated by the civil war and its aftermath. Less than 450 rhinos remain in three populations in Bardia and Chitwan National Parks, and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. The rhinos are also threatened by habitat degradation, invasive alien plant species, and conflict with people who live in the vicinity of the protected areas.

The birth of calves, however, is a strong indicator that the patrols are helping to stabilise the country’s rhino population. The elephant-back patrol teams have also been successful in Chitwan National Park, where a female calf was recently rescued after being separated from its mother during the monsoon.

“There is no quick solution for the greater one-horned rhino, but we’re committed to their long-term protection”, said Naresh Subedi of NTNC. “The elephant-back patrols, combined with improved habitat management, raising awareness of the threats facing them through community art projects, and providing local people with alternative livelihoods are all helping to ease the pressure on these iconic animals.”

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