Chitwan, March 1
Approximately 70 per cent of rhinos in the Chitwan National Park (CNP) have started migrating towards the western side in search of suitable habitat, says the park authority.
The eastern area where the majority of rhinos were living is gradually losing the grassland and sources of water. There is a lack of water for rhinos as the water in the Rapti river has been drained out for irrigation, says the park’s 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 says, adding that the deposition of silt and pebbles washed away by the river have buried grasslands.
There are distributaries of the Narayani river and grasslands on the western side which make favourable habitat for rhinos. The construction of concrete structures built to bar wild animals from entering human settlement nearby on the eastern side has stopped rhinos to make movements across the river, which also helped the migration of the animals, says Baral.
Rhinos that have reached the western side are reluctant to move elsewhere as the area provides enough food and water, he says.
Efforts were ongoing to manage grassland and marshes on the eastern side also, CNP Information Officer Lokendra Adhikari says, adding discussions are 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 park has 605, according to the latest census.