GPS to ascertain impact of invasive plant on rhinos

GPS to ascertain impact of invasive plant on rhinos

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Chitwan, Nepal: A GPS radio collar is being fitted on the neck of a Rhino deep inside the jungle in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. The study aims to ascertain whether the invasive plant species Mikania Macarantha (Michaha Jhar), spreading at an alarming rate in the park has any impact on the rhino population there. It has been conducted for the first time in Nepal.

The radio collar will store data of the rhino’s movement. The data will be transferred through the receiver to a laptop computer in the field when it is needed. Dr Shanta Raj Jnawali, the Tarai Programme Director at National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), said, “We have an antenna that will detect the rhino while the receiving device will download the track records of its movement stored in the GPS collar from a distance of 1km.”

“In the next GPS collars we will use the satellite system and the movement of the rhinos could be tracked from the office directly,” said Naresh Subedi, research officer, NTNC at the Biodiversity Conservation Centre in Sauraha.

The plant was first reported in Ilam district in 1966, while its presence was reported in Chitwan in 2000, but during the 2008 rhino census, it was found that the plant spread like wildfire in the national park area. “We are now conducting a research to find out the impact of the plant species on the rhino population,” said Subedi.

There are 408 rhinos in the Chitwan National Park. The GPS system is brought from South Africa is provided by the world wildlife fund and they cost about USD 10,000.

Source: The Himalayan Times