Resources Himalaya Foundation and Environmental Graduates in Himalaya successfully organized our monthly talk program PYCF with Mr. Ganesh Pant, Under Secretary at Ministry of Forests and Environment on December 3, 2021. He presented a talk on “Climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning: A case of greater one-horned rhinoceros in Nepal.”
After briefing the context of global climate change and its impact on biodiversity, the talk proceeded towards the greater one-horned rhinoceros, its global distribution, status and threats. The greater one-horned rhinoceros was introduced as an iconic wildlife species, which is in the IUCN red list as vulnerable and is a specialist in terms of habitat and food requirements. The fact on how rhinoceros in Nepal was brought back from the brink of extinction during the 1960 was highlighted to give an overview on the history of rhinoceros conservation in Nepal and the current effective strategies were recalled. Despite increasing population trend, the rhinoceros population is likely to be affected by climate change such as a spatial shift in and degradation of suitable habitats. Thus, the talk focused on the necessity of this research to know the extent of climate vulnerability of rhinoceros. Through different vulnerability indicators and index, it was found that the rhinoceros in Nepal is likely to be moderately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Likewise, the potential impacts are likely to be high, but its adaptive capacity may offset these impacts. Some of the key factors that are likely to make rhinoceros more vulnerable are limited dispersal ability, slow reproductive rate, specialized habitat and dietary requirements, restricted distribution, rarity and narrow physiological tolerances. Some of the adaptation measures suggested to enhance the resilience of the species were managing the current and future habitat, focusing on research and monitoring, planning for climate refugia such as developing flood model during the likely events of severe floods, continuing to reduce vulnerability from other stressors such as zero poaching, pollution control. The presentation was followed by a discussion session and ended with a vote of thanks from Dr. Dinesh Neupane, Executive Director at RHF.