In South Africa, 2011 marked a record year for rhinos lost to poaching. More than 440 of the critically endangered animals died at the hands of poachers. Meanwhile, the black rhino was declared extinct in Western Africa. To top the year off, the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam.
Indeed, 2011 was a bad year for the world's rhino populations.
In Nepal, however, there was a reason to celebrate in spite of the upsetting news elsewhere. In 2011, not a single rhino was lost in Nepal due to poaching.
“This is the first time in 29 years that Nepal has gone an entire year without a single poached rhino, and it’s a testament to the efforts of the Government of Nepal, WWF and many partners,” explained Barney Long, Asian species expert at WWF, “we hope the new year will bring additional good news from other countries like South Africa as they continue to crack down on rhino poaching.”
The celebration was an opportunity, too, for Nepal and its partners to refocus their attention on the monumental task of protecting the country's 534 greater one-horned rhinos. Coinciding with the opening of a new interrogation center in Chitwan National Park it was clear that escalation is still necessary to protect some of the world's most vulnerable species.