At the turn of the century, the population of Indian rhinos had decreased drastically to about 20 individuals. However, through strict protection in India and Nepal, this species has since been brought back from the brink of extinction, with more than 2,800 individuals existing today (5).
The Indian rhinoceros is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that trade in this species is only permitted under exceptional circumstances (3).
An Asian Rhino Action Plan has been put in place, with a key goal being to develop and maintain a total wild population of at least 3,000 Indian rhinos by the year 2020 (1) (7). To achieve this goal, priorities for the Indian rhino’s conservation include habitat improvement and extension, public education and an increase in rhinoceros population security and anti-poaching measures (1) (5) (7).
Managed breeding is a successful tool in India, and translocations undertaken in order to spread the rhino population out more evenly across the multiple national parks have proven to be successful (7). These translocations are important, as more than 85 percent of the Indian rhino population is found in just one protected area, which means that a single catastrophic event, such as the outbreak of disease, could lead to another serious decline in the population (5).
Further recommended conservation measures for the Indian rhinoceros include reducing the number of human-wildlife conflicts, improving water management and availability, involving local people in rhino conservation, and training staff in specific rhino conservation techniques (1).