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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 07:37 GMT
Rare rhinos disappearing in Nepal
By Sushil Sharma
BBC News, Kathmandu

Single-horned Asiatic rhino at Nepal's Chitwan National Park
The Asiatic rhino's horn is reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities
Dozens of rare one-horned rhinos have gone missing in south-western Nepal in recent years, say conservationists.

A recent census carried out at a national park in Bardiya suggested there were only 26 rhinos left. The number stood at 83 four years ago.

Rhinos have also dwindled in Chitwan park where the population has fallen to 405 from more than 500 in 2000.

Poachers are suspected to have killed the animal whose horn is sought after for its alleged aphrodisiac qualities.

Some reports have suggested that some rhinos may have moved across the borders to India, but a senior conservation official, Phanindra Kharel, has ruled that out.

Lack of security

The Kantipur newspaper quoted him as saying there was no chance of the rhinos moving out.

They had been transferred to Bardiya from Chitwan national park, in central Nepal, over the past two decades.

The translocation had been seen as a major conservation move.

Authorities say the poachers have capitalised on the lack of security caused by the long-running Maoist insurgency.

A number of security posts had been removed from the parks following the Maoist threat.

Security posts are being re-instated in and around national parks following a recent peace accord between the government and the Maoist rebels.

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Threat grows to Nepal rhino
03 Dec 02 |  South Asia
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20 May 04 |  Science/Nature
Nepal claims rhino success
29 May 00 |  South Asia
Country profile: Nepal
02 Nov 06 |  Country profiles

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