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PREM Working Paper 05-11 - Economic incentives and poaching of the one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Nepal:Simulation modelling of policies to combat the poaching of rhino in Royal Chitwan National Park

Author(s) Knowler, D., Poudyal, M
Date 2005-06-28
Theme(s) Biodiversity, Agriculture
Method(s) Policy Instruments
Serie(s) Working Papers


Abundant in the past, the one-horned rhinoceros that inhabits the low-lying Terai region of Nepal has come under pressure due to the loss of habitat and poaching. Efforts to protect the species continue to face considerable challenges, including: (i) economic constraints associated with protecting these species in one of the poorest countries in the world; and (ii) the ineffectiveness of current policies due to a number of socio-economic and political factors.

This study models poaching behaviour to provide information about the effectiveness of current interventions and to simulate alternative policies. Our goal is to help design more effective policies to combat poaching, while at the same time ensuring that local livelihoods are supported. This study considers some salient features of the rhino conservation/poaching problem in Nepal, such as: rhino population dynamics; crop damage due to rhinos; park-community revenue sharing programmes; the collection of resources from the park; and tourism employment etc., when running a simulation model. Indeed, all of these factors were entered as sub-models within the overarching simulation model. The simulation model was run over a ten-year period from 2004-2013(inclusive) for four policy scenarios. The current policy scenario represents the baseline and the three other hypothetical scenarios represent three distinct policy alternatives.

The simulation results indicate that although a conventional conservation strategy, emphasising the role of anti-poaching units (APUs), is likely to increase the rhino population to a greater extent than the other strategies, it produces less overall benefits to local communities. Conversely, incentive-based conservation strategies that target farming and non-farming households through economic incentives (such as compensation for crop damage, increased employment opportunities, and greater access to park resources), along with some anti-poaching enforcement, are likely to increase the rhino population and at the same time produce greater overall benefits for local communities. It is inherently difficult to ensure all stakeholder groups simultaneously benefit from a single policy measure. However, the simulation results show that any policy that tries to incorporate the concerns of different stakeholders by providing different economic incentives is more likely to help protect rhinos, and at the same time improve local livelihoods.


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