GUWAHATI, March 31 – In a heartening development against the backdrop of a spurt in rhino poaching in the State, two translocated rhinos in Manas National Park have given birth to calves.
Rhino 17 (translocated to Manas in 2012) and Rhino 8 (translocated to Manas in 2011) were sighted on March 23 and March 25 respectively with their newborn calves by WWF-India researchers and Assam Forest Department staff involved in post-release monitoring of the rhinos.
Rhino 8 was translocated to Manas in January 2011 and it is certain that the mating with one of the translocated males and the subsequent pregnancy happened in Manas.
“These births indicate that the translocated rhinos are breeding successfully and have adapted well to the new environment. In total, three calves have been born to translocated rhinos in Manas National Park to date,” a WWF-India official said.
The high demand for rhino horn in the illegal wildlife trade continues to be the biggest threat this newly established rhino population is facing, with three translocated rhinos having fallen prey to poachers in the past two years.
The two rhinos were translocated under the aegis of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme (IRV 2020) -- a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam; WWF-India; the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Bodoland Territorial Council and supported by a number of local organizations.
A total of 18 rhinos – ten from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and eight from the Kaziranga National Park have been translocated so far to Manas.
“The successes achieved under the programme until now are a result of the commitment and support extended to it by the different partners, stakeholders, local communities and forest staff of the different protected areas (PAs) of Assam,” the official said.
Under IRV 2020, Manas National Park has been provided much support to upgrade its infrastructure and monitoring capabilities to enable better protection for the translocated rhinos. Conservationists feel that ensuring the safety of the newborn calves and their mothers as well as the other rhinos in Manas will be critical to establishing a viable rhino population.