Protecting Endangered Species (One–Horned Rhinoceros and Tigers) in Nepal from Conflict, Poaching and Trade

Project location: Nepal, Kathmandu
Project start date: July 2012 - Project end date: July 2013
Project number: 2012-016
Beneficiary: Wildlife Conservation Nepal


The overall objective of the project is to protect endangered species which includes the one-horn Rhinoceros and Tigers in their natural habitat by spreading awareness on their conservation and conducting capacity building programs on increasing the earning potentials of the local people to bring financial growth so that the local communities can benefit while participating in conservation of the endangered species.

Chitwan National Park (CNP) is home to the second largest population of Greater one-horned rhinoceros in the world and contains 91 living adult tigers. The greatest threats are poaching and habitat shrinkage. Rhino and tiger poaching largely attract marginalized communities because it brings immediate cash. The poachers are clever and capitalize on local skills and rudimentary arms to kill the species. This is largely due to poverty, greed and gaps in knowledge on the importance of protecting such endangered species. Sometime when these species enter crop fields, there is a conflict between human and wildlife species.

Local communities depend much on agriculture for their livelihood and if frequency of animals raiding crop field is found, the farmer lays an electric current on their path eventually, the animals is electrocuted. Sometimes they pour pesticides on dead livestock carcasses which have been eaten by tigers. Many such illicit activities are seen at the edge of the National Park in buffer zone areas. The local poachers sell rhino horns and tiger skin for sheer benefits which provides them with more than 5 years of their wages.
Traditional hunters have been enticed by middle men offering money in advance to poach wildlife species and the lure of the money attracts them to poaching. Eventually after a few poaching incidences, the poacher and his group is arrested and sentenced to prison. The poacher is known to operate with a minimum of 6 to 10 people who provide all logistic support to kill a particular species. As a result severe economic hardship is faced by families of poachers; the problem is exacerbated when the male breadwinner is no longer providing the family with basic needs.

The awareness education campaign on endangered species protection in schools and communities will result in protection of these valuable species. Many people are unaware of the prison sentences which if mentioned in the awareness program will deter them from poaching activities. Five schools of the buffer zone of CNP will be enrolled for the outreach program to build awareness on species protection. Such will motivate the local people into working collectively towards wildlife species conservation because they will bring in eco-tourism, an alternate source of earning livelihoods.

The project will target poachers' families, who are in destitute and vulnerable conditions, by providing vocational training and opportunities in conservation activities through economic empowerment. Training on eco-tourism activities such as identification of trails and paths in the forests, and nature guide trainings will be conducted to build capacity of local community members. This will have profound impact in protecting wildlife species and reducing poverty in some of Nepal's most poverty-stricken communities which are famous for its hunting capabilities.

In patriarchal Nepali society, women are vulnerable and often victims of violence and abuse due to their status in the decision making at the household level. Today women are slowly breaking the shackle and seeking opportunities to raise their family income. Few sporadic events in communities have found the involvement of women in poaching activities which is a grave concern because of the implications that can have on families, and future of the country.

A gender-based approach will be used to implement the activities. Women will be trained in vocational skills and intelligence gathering from the forest, where they go to collect fodder and fire wood. Empowering women will be effective in achieving project goals due to their inherent nature of being caretakers and are the best intelligence medium to collect information at the grassroots level. Training on briquette-making will be conducted to provide alternative source of income for local women and also reduce the dependency on forest for fuelwood.

Furthermore, a mechanism will be developed within communities to share intelligence with the nearest range post of protected areas. This will facilitate effective monitoring by enforcement agencies, leading to reduction in poaching activities while protecting endangered species in their natural habitat.

The project activities will be conducted with support of 100 WCN volunteers contributing 700 volunteer hours to the project. Seventy volunteers will be mobilized for the school outreach program and thirty volunteers will contribute for workshops, training and awareness programs. The expenses for food and travel of volunteers will be borne by WCN.

This project received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation.
The project activities will contribute to protecting endangered species population of Chitwan National Park. Conservation of these species will have a two-fold effect:
i) Endangered species will be protected by the local communities in their natural habitat;
ii) It will boost eco-tourism in the region and increase household income of local communities.

Women-focused vocational skill training will build capacities of 50 women in briquette-making. Promoting briquettes as an alternative source of fuel will reduce human pressure on forest resources. By investing in women, the project will give impetus to effective conservation strategies and will improve the socioeconomic status of women.

Target beneficiaries for the project will be the marginalized communities from the rhino/tiger conflict areas in buffer zone of CNP. This project will directly benefit 200 individuals through capacity building workshops and 2000 students through outreach programs. The ripple-effects of the workshops and outreach programs will also reach neighbouring villages. Publication and dissemination of fact sheets, posters will reach more than 3000 local people.

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