Adhering to stay-at-home regulations can be a difficult task for some. But when the alternative is facing off against a two-ton, street-strolling rhino, it doesn't seem so bad.

An undated video shared recently on Twitter by Indian Forest Services officer Parveen Kaswan shows a one-horned rhino casually strolling down a mostly deserted road near Chitwan National Park. The lumbering pachyderm briefly lunged at a pedestrian – sending the man fleeing for the safety of a nearby building – before heading in the direction of more natural surroundings. 

Aside from a number of misinformed or inaccurate reports, some stories of animals bouncing back as a result of decreased human activity have proven to be true, but Kaswan was careful to point out that it's not uncommon to see one-horned rhinos straying from the nearby forest. Nepal is a vital stronghold for the vulnerable species and is home to a healthy population of rhinos. It's likely that the sizeable street walker would have emerged from its natural habitat regardless of the number of people present in the village.

While the video provides some much-needed comic relief in a trying time, it also brings into sharper focus the growing problem of human-wildlife conflict. When large game strays into human-inhabited areas, it does not always end in laughter. Back in 2015, a rhino charged through a local market and bus station in the Nepalese town of Hetauda before entering a hospital. One person was killed and several others injured. 

Although incidents involving casualties are rare, controlling human-wildlife conflict remains a challenge for Nepal's wildlife officials. In a country with a reputation for conservation success (albeit with some controversy), attacks on humans by wildlife can lead to retaliatory killings which may tarnish the nation's reputation as a leader in the fight against wildlife crime.

Rhino numbers have steadily increased in Nepal since Chitwan was declared a national park in 1973. In the middle part of the twentieth century, poaching and habitat loss had pushed rhinos to the brink, with fewer than 100 individuals still hiding out in Nepal's forests. But concerted conservation efforts have helped increase this number to over 600.

More rhinos, however, means a greater chance that these animals will clash with people. Fortunately, this encounter ended peacefully.


Top header image: bobosh_t, Flickr