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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 11:39 GMT
Threat grows to Nepal rhino
One-horned rhino in water    WWF-CANON/J Rey-Millet
The insurgency has left the rhinos more vulnerable

Poaching of the endangered one-horned rhino in Nepal is increasing due to inadequate security caused mainly by the Maoist insurgency, officials say.

The Nepalese authorities say that 31 rhinos have died in less than a year.

Elephant and rhino in Nepal    WWF-Canon/Michel Gunther
Trackers on patrol in Nepal
This is said to be one of the highest number of rhino deaths in recent years and more than half the deaths have been blamed on poachers.

Nepal is home to more than 600 one-horned rhinos, accounting for a quarter of the total population which is mainly found in north-eastern India and Nepal.

Security issues

The number of rhinos had been increasing in Nepal in recent years as a result of conservation schemes and security arrangements.

But recent reports of a high number of rhino deaths have alarmed the authorities.

The increase in poaching has been blamed largely on inadequate security caused by the long-running Maoist insurgency.

The government was forced to cut down the number of security posts established to counter the poachers after it deployed the military to tackle the rebels last year.

Trading in the horn of the rhino is internationally banned, but experts say that poachers are encouraged by the big profit margin.

See also:

14 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
08 May 02 | Science/Nature
26 Mar 02 | South Asia
18 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
11 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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