Nepal's Rhino Population Has Experienced a Baby Boom Due in Part to COVID-19 Lockdowns | Inside Edition

Nepal's Rhino Population Has Experienced a Baby Boom Due in Part to COVID-19 Lockdowns

Baby Rhino in Nepal
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Conservation officials told the WSJ that the nature reserves that are typically filled with tourists in Jeeps were closed for most of last year, which gave the rhinos more time to roam, congregate and mate.

Cigar anyone?

The endangered one-horned rhino population in Nepal has experienced a rhino baby boom that conservation officials believe is linked, in part, to the worldwide travel restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's great news for all of us who care for the conservation of rhinos," Deepak Kumar Kharal, the department's director-general, told the Wall Street Journal. "COVID-19 had a small but an important role helping the growth in our rhinos' population.”

Conservation officials told the WSJ that the nature reserves that are typically filled with tourists in Jeeps were closed for most of last year, which gave the rhinos more time to roam, congregate and mate.

According to Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, the country’s one-horned rhino population increased by about 17 percent from a previous survey taken six years earlier. The current count of the one-horned rhino is up to 752, according to multiple reports.

The latest census, that was reportedly delayed by one year due to the pandemic, was performed by rangers who rode on the backs of elephants over a three-week period in late March to count the rhinos, according to the WSJ. 

GPS equipment, binoculars and cameras were all used to create the census, according to phys.org, the World Wildlife Fund, which provided financial and technical assistance for the census, called “the overall growth in population size indicative of ongoing protection and habitat management,” People reported. 

Bishnu Lama, a wildlife technician who worked on the census, told the WSJ that the gestation period for rhinos is as long as 18 months.

"COVID lockdown gave the best environment for the birth and growth of baby rhinos," said Bishnu Lama, a wildlife technician who worked on the census, Lama said

A milestone for sure.

In the 1960s, the population of one-horned rhinos was once below 100. In 1994, once authorities and the government stepped up conservation efforts to boost the population and began a census every five years, it helped significantly. The first census in 1994 revealed roughly 466 rhinos in Nepal. In 2015, the census counted 645 one-horned rhinos, the WSJ reported.

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