Washington, March 28 : A nationwide government census in Nepal has found out that the numbers of the rare one-horned Indian rhinoceros are increasing in the country.
According to a report in National Geographic News, field observers recently counted 408 rhinos over two weeks in Royal Chitwan National Park, one of the last remaining strongholds for the endangered animals.
Preliminary numbers from the census suggest an increase from 2005, when observers reported seeing only 372 rhinos in the park.
Rhino numbers in other parts of the country have remained stable, with preliminary counts suggesting there are 31 rhinos in Royal Bardia National Park and 6 in the Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, both in western Nepal.
"A healthier sex ratio as well as gradual improvements in habitat management have helped boost rhino numbers," said Laxmi Prasad Manandhar, chief conservation and education officer at Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
About 200 wildlife biologists, technicians, forest rangers, and field observers took part in the survey, which was a joint effort among Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, WWF-Nepal, and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.
"The census used global positioning systems for the first time, and observers carried digital cameras to photograph every rhino seen," said Manandhar.
According to officials, the rhino rebound is also due to new anti-poaching measures implemented in the aftermath of the country's decade-long Maoist insurgency.
Jungle patrols had ground to a halt during Nepal's civil war, in which Maoists occupied the forests and poaching activities went on unchecked.
"Since the end of the conflict period [in 2006], we have increased the number of guard posts in Chitwan to 34," said Manandhar.
Full results of the census are expected in the next two weeks.
"The final numbers will give us a clearer picture as to whether poaching is reducing in other parts of the country as well, and not just in Chitwan," said Manandhar.