Conservation Issues

© WWF-India
For years, rhinos have been widely slaughtered for their horn, an ingredient in traditional Asian medicines. And the destruction of their preferred habitat over the years brought rhinos to the brink of extinction.
By adopting active conservation measures both in India and Nepal, the status of the species is now healthier, especially in terms of their numbers. However, with their limited distribution, the little opportunity for gene exchange, likely impacts of climate change, loss and quality deterioration of habitats, disease risks and the ever-present threat of poaching still poses a massive challenge for the species' future.
Poaching is an omnipresent threat to the rhinos, based on a myth. In reality, rhino horns are made up of keratin, a material akin to human hair with no medicinal properties.
Even though more than 4000 rhinos are surviving in Nepal and India today, they are confined to just an area of about 4000 sq. km distributed among 10 PAs. Spread over an ample space across the two countries. The species has disappeared from large areas of its original range that once extended from Pakistan to the western parts of present-day Myanmar, which is popularly known as the Indus-Ganges-Brahmaputra valley.

Throughout their present-day range, their habitat continues to dwindle fast as their preferred grassland habitats are threatened by invasive species, weeds, and natural succession to woodlands. In addition, the habitats are also threatened by visible changes in the water availability and flow patterns, and there is a likely threat of expedited habitat quality loss due to climate change impacts shortly.
Hence, there is a need to:
  • improve security in all rhino bearing areas in India
  • expand the distribution of rhinos to reduce the risk of stochastic catastrophes
  • prevent loss of prime habitats and facilitate management to maintain the quality of habitats
  • reduce poaching and trade in rhino horn and promote the use of technology to aid conservation undertake research on the species 
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