Greater one-horned rhinos thriving in India Nepal despite poaching threat Report

New Delhi, Sep 20 (PTI) The greater one-horned rhino population in India and Nepal continues to grow on the back of strong protection, wildlife crime law enforcement and habitat expansion, according to a new report.
    The State of the Rhino Report, 2023, by US-based International Rhino Foundation (IRF) comes ahead of World Rhino Day, an annual global celebration of the five rhino species and their conservation on September 22.
    According to the report, the two most significant factors causing rhino populations to decline are poaching and habitat loss but climate change is also increasingly impacting many facets of their survival.
    "Poaching still threatens all five rhino species -- black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan -- and has increased in several regions that had not previously been targeted," it states.
    However, the report pointed to some bright spots.
    Greater one-horned rhinos continue to thrive due to strong protection and enforcement and, though the governments of India and Nepal did not conduct an official census this year, the authorities believe the population is growing, the foundation said.
    India, Bhutan and Nepal work together to implement a trans-boundary management strategy for the greater one-horned rhino. Thanks to this collaboration and strict government protection and management, the greater one-horned rhino population has steadily increased over the last century and grown about 20 per cent over the past decade, it said.
    According to estimates, India is home to 3,262 rhinos.
    The black rhino population is increasing despite constant poaching pressure, the IRF said.
    South Africa continues to battle devastating poaching losses of its white rhinos as poachers target the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park and other reserves in the KwaZulu-Natal province, it added.
    One of the major concerns is that the status and whereabouts of 12 of the approximately 76 remaining Javan rhinos is unknown.
    Signs of Sumatran rhinos are increasingly hard to find, creating more uncertainty about their population in the wild, the report states.
    Across the globe, rhinos -- once considered less threatened -- have seemingly become the primary target of poaching efforts, which are orchestrated by highly organised, transnational criminal syndicates, the foundation noted.
    It said India has suffered two poaching losses -- one in Kaziranga National Park and one in Manas National Park -- this year so far.
    Indonesia's Ujung Kulon National Park, home to the world's only population of Javan rhinos, has seen an alarming increase in incursion attempts over the past year, the report states.
    Namibia, home to the largest number of black rhinos in the world, saw a devastating 93 per cent increase in rhino poaching from 2021 to 2022, according to the report.
    The report emphasises that addressing climate change is increasingly vital for rhino survival. Climate-related droughts in Africa are impacting both humans and wildlife, exacerbating conflicts over water resources. The resulting economic hardships could lead to increased poaching, further endangering rhinos.
    "Competition over water resources may also cause increasing strife and disruption between communities and between humans and wildlife, bringing people in ever closer contact with rhinos," the report states.
    It further adds, "Poverty resulting from the loss of crops and livestock may lead to increased poaching as a way to earn income. Dry conditions could also cause an increase in wildfires, leading to a loss of habitat."
    At the other end of climate disruption, dramatically increased precipitation and longer monsoon periods in Asia could cause more direct deaths of rhinos and humans alike. These seasonal floods are already causing some greater one-horned rhinos to get stranded on temporary islands or drown, the foundation said in the report.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)