It was something of an anti-climax to see the One-horned Rhinoceros in the Central Zoo in Kathmandu. This was because I had already seen several of this species in their natural habitat in the Terai region of southern Nepal.
On my visit to the Royal Chitwan National Park I went on two elephant rides through the park and we saw a One-horned Rhinoceros on each of those rides. I have already written about that experience here and here.
The One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also called the Indian Rhinoceros. This is one of five species of rhino in existence today; several other species are now extinct. It’s preferred habitat is the tall grasslands and forests of north eastern India and southern Nepal, including the Terai region where I saw it. They have very good hearing but rather poor eyesight.
The One-horned Rhinoceros is an endangered species. By 1910 its numbers had dropped to about 100 individuals and was thus on the brink of extinction. A concerted conservation effort has seen this number rise to about 2400 at present, some 535 of which live in Nepal. While the success of the conservation programme is encouraging, it is still on the endangered list.
The numbers of rhinos dropped dramatically due to a combination of poaching for their horns and the destruction of their habitat. In some parts they can be a pest species to local farmers. On one of my trips through the farming area near Royal Chitwan NP I saw first hand evidence of the destruction of crops by a rogue rhino only the night before.
Click on the photos to enlarge the image.
For more information about the One-horned Rhinoceros click here.