Sunday, 14 April 2013

Nepal's rhino hunters become the hunted

By Anbarasan EthirajanBBC News, Chitwan National Park, central Nepal

Once Chitwan National Park in Nepal was the favourite hunting ground of poachers, but now it is they who are on the run and being hunted.

It is a rare successful conservation story in South Asia, where park officials and the Nepalese army have managed to turn the tide against poaching in the last few years.

Wild animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards have been regularly killed by poachers for their body parts and skin, which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.

The national park in the foothills of the Himalayas has succeeded particularly in protecting its most famous resident - the one-horned rhinoceros, also known as the Great Indian rhinoceros - from poachers.

Anti-insurgency operations
Some conservationists believe it is one of the most endangered animals in the world - it features prominently on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 “Around 20 or 25 elephants will take part in the exercise and we will scour an entire area with bushes or tall grass looking for poachers' dens or hide outs”, Rupak MahajanChitwan national park co-ordinator of anti-poaching operations.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that one-horned rhinos are hunted because its horn is used in traditional East Asian medicines - though there is no scientific proof of its medicinal value.

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