Between 1986 to 2017, as many as 100 rhinos were translocated from Chitwan to Bardia National Park. Three decades later, only 37 remain.
The rhinos were taken to Bardia because the animals were dying due to overcrowding, increase in infrastructure, human-animal conflict, and frequent territorial fights among males in Chitwan National Park.
Among the translocated animals, 55 were male and 45 female rhinos, and transferring them to Bardia was also an insurance in case disease felled rhinos in Chitwan, or they were washed away in floods as happened in 2017.
A 2005 census put the rhino population in Bardia National Park at 67, but the number had slumped to 22 by 2008. Authorities at the Park say 34 rhinos fell prey to poachers. In 2020 alone, 4 rhinos were killed by ivory traffickers, dashing Nepal’s hopes of achieving a five-year streak of zero rhino poaching.
“The population of the rhinos had been increasing prior to the surge in poaching last year,” says Bardia National Park conservation officer Bishnu Prasad Shrestha. “Poaching goes up whenever the attention is diverted, as happened during the conflict or the pandemic.”