Good news for wildlife
In March 2014, National Geographic
reported that in the past year, not a single rhino, tiger or wild elephant had been killed in Chitwan National Park. Since 2011, just one rhino has been poached here; to put that into context, South Africa lost almost three rhinos
per day in 2013 alone. Chitwan’s incredible record has been possible only through intense investment in rangers, community outreach and crime investigation units. More than a thousand soldiers patrol Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks and their buffer zones, and community anti-poaching units ensure rapid responses.
Government owned elephants have played a suitably large role in the protection of Chitwan and other similar parks. Patrols are carried out on elephant back, and radio collared tigers and rhinos are tracked by rangers riding elephants while carrying receivers. They also reduce human-wildlife conflict, as Marcus Cotton, from Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, explains: “These elephants are used inside national parks to capture injured animals to treat them; to capture “rogue” tigers and other animals that are attacking local people or threatening livelihoods through crop predation (thus jeopardising conservation initiatives); and to capture rhinoceros for removal to new reserves to ensure repopulation and diversity of populations.”
Another way the elephants help is by carrying tourists into the park and buffer zones. The income from these safaris is what has allowed for this enormous investment in conservation, as well as winning over local communities, who have formed civilian anti-poaching units. In certain habitats in Chitwan, an elephant is the only safe means of access. According to National Geographic, "The government actually gives 50 cents of every tourist dollar to local communities, which makes them hold more value for rhinos alive than dead".