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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Nepal rhino population declines
Nepal one-horned rhino
Poachers hunt the rhino for its horn, which can fetch high prices
The number of endangered one-horned rhinoceros in Nepal has declined in recent years, due mainly to poaching, wildlife authorities say.

The latest count of the population has shown that rhino numbers have dropped to fewer than 400 from nearly 600 animals in three parks in 2000.

Poaching has been blamed largely on inadequate security caused by the long-running Maoist insurgency.

Nepal is home to a quarter of South Asia's rhino population.

In the last official count of the Nepal's one-horned rhinos, the authorities had claimed success in the conservation of what is called the world's most endangered species.

The 2000 count showed that there were more than 500 rhinos in the country's largest national park, Chitwan, and about 100 in two other smaller parks - a 25% rise in the population over previous years.

Five years later, the rhino population had dropped by nearly a quarter, authorities said.

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

The government was forced to cut down the number of security posts established to counter the poachers in Chitwan national park due to fears of attack by the rebels.

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26 Mar 02 |  South Asia

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