Rhinos in CNP migrating west in search of suitable habitat
Approximately 70 per cent of rhinos in the Chitwan National Park (CNP) has started migrating towards the western side from the east in search of suitable habitat, said the CNP.
The eastern area where majority rhinos were living is gradually losing the grassland and sources of water. There is lack of water for rhinos as the water in the Rapti river has been drained out for irrigation, said the CNP Chief Conservation Officer Ananath Baral.
“The river is gradually getting the water level decreased. As a result, grasslands and marshes around have been depleted,” he said, adding that deposition of silt and pebbles washed away by the river have buried grasslands.
There are distributaries of the Narayani river and grasslands in the western side which make favourable habitat for rhinos. Construction of concrete structures built to bar wild animals from entering human settlement nearby in the eastern side have stopped rhinos to make movements across the river, which also helped the migration of the animals, said Baral.
Some rhinos have been swept away from the eastern side to the west, he said. Some years ago, 10 rhinos were washed away by flood from the CNP were rescued from Indian territories, he said. Some rhinos that were swept away have been still in Indian territories, it has been estimated.
Rhinos that have reached the western side are reluctant to move elsewhere as the area provides enough food and water, he said. Kasara place has been a base to demarcate the west and east sectors of the CNP, said CNP information officer Lokendra Adhikari.
Efforts were ongoing to manage grassland and marshes in the east, he said, adding that discussions were underway to translocate rhinos internally from the west to the east following the forthcoming rhino census in one month. There are 645 rhinos across the country, of them the CNP has 605, according to the latest census.