In addition, climate change is leading to weather extremes that have aggravated the problems of water scarcity, flash floods and prey decline. Even though rhinos are no longer poached, for example, there has been a sharp increase in fatalities, with 41 dead in the last 9 months alone in Chitwan. Besides old age, most have died of disease, fights with other rhinos, or poisoning. Last month, a rhino died in Sauraha after falling into the septic tank of a hotel.
There has also been an increase in wild elephants and tigers entering human settlements in search of food due to habitat encroachment in their migration corridors. Last year, flash floods in Chitwan washed away rhinos: 12 of them had to be rescued and brought back from India.
However, the biggest threat to Nepal’s wildlife in the post-poaching era is new infrastructure crisscrossing nature reserves. Major transmission lines have been built or are planned through national parks, the new postal highway slices through nature reserves, new irrigation canals such as Babai, Sikta and Ranijamara have bifurcated areas frequented by wildlife, and the new East-West railroad running parallel to the E-W Highway will fragment many national parks.