|dc.description.abstract||Chitwan National Park (CNP) is one of the most important global destinations to view wildlife, particularly rhinoceros. The total number of wildlife tourists visiting the park has increased from 836 in Fiscal Year (FY) 1974/75 to 172,112 in FY 2011/12. But the rhinoceros, the main attraction for the tourists, is seriously threatened by poaching for its horn (CNP, 2012). Thus, the study of the relationship between wildlife tourism and rhinoceros poaching is essential for the management of tourism and control of the poaching.
This research identifies the impacts of tourism on the poaching. It documents the relationships among key indicators of tourism and poaching in CNP. It further interprets the identified relationships through the understandings of local wildlife tourism stakeholders. Finally, it suggests future research and policy, and management recommendations for better management of tourism and control of poaching.
Information was collected using both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Data were collected focussing on the indicators of the research hypotheses which link tourism and poaching. Data required for the indicators were gathered from the existing records of the CNP, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), published materials and the research literature. Indicators of each hypothesis were graphed and interpreted by 21 key stakeholders through semi-structured interviews. Field observation was also conducted to gain in depth knowledge of the physical settings of the rhinoceros conservation.
The study shows that as wildlife tourism increases, park surveillance and anti-poaching operations (APOs) also increase. Movement of the tourism activities serve as a form of patrolling the park. Moreover, tourism generates money for the surveillance and the APOs through buffer zone management programmes and stakeholders’ support. The surveillance and the APOs are vital to reducing poaching.
In addition, as the penalty rate for the poachers decreases, poaching increases and vice versa. Furthermore, as the value of the rhinoceros horn in international black market increases, the poaching also increases. Political instability has been the primary cause of the poaching since 1950s.
Wildlife tourism and rhinoceros poaching impact upon each other. Financial support is the most important contribution made by tourism for anti-poaching activities. Habituation and the displacement of the rhinoceroses from the usual habitats caused by the tourism create the poaching environment. Hence, the most important implication of this finding is for the management of tourism and the control of poaching through the integrated conservation efforts of the Park, the Nepal army, police and buffer zone communities. The impacts of the habituation and the displacement on poaching and of the poaching on tourism need to be further studied in detail.
The study makes an important theoretical contribution to strengthen Higginbottom and Tribe’s (2004) framework for wildlife tourism. The study attempts to systematically quantify the links between wildlife tourism and the rhinoceros population, and identifies that wildlife tourism increases the financial support and political pressure for conservation, which were identified as weak linkages in the original framework.||en