Nepal has achieved zero rhino poaching for the past seven years, but there has been a worrying rise in rhino deaths in Nepal in recent years. Park authorities say 20 rhinos have died so far in 2019-20, and 43 died the year previous to that. Many of them were males gored while fighting for mates and territory as Chitwan became overcrowded, while others died of disease or old age.
There has also been an increase in human-animal conflict while rhinos venturing out to raid farms in the buffer zone, and in the process being electrocuted or poisoned. Another threat to rhino conservation in the post-poaching era is the increase in infrastructure that criss-cross nature reserves.
The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros numbered at least 1,000 in Chitwan until the 1950s, before the trans-migration of farmers from the mountains, the eradication of malaria and the clearing of forests. After this, the number plummeted to less than 100, and the government set aside the remaining prime rhino and tiger habitats along the Rapti, Narayani and Reu rivers as Royal Chitwan National Park in 1973.
Over the years, the wildlife population in Nepal surged back, and a total of 645 rhinos were counted in the last census in 2015. Of these, at least 620 are now said to be in Chitwan National Park alone, with the rest scattered in Parsa, Bardia and Shuklaphanta reserves.