Guwahati, Friday, January 9, 2015
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Manas rhino project progressing well: Director
HARAMOHAN BARMAN
 BARPETA, Jan 8 The ambitious India Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV2020) is heading in the right direction and there is no reason to doubt its success so far, said AC Das, Director of the Manas National Park cum Tiger Project.

Talking to this Correspondent in his office chamber this afternoon, Das said though news reports of rhino poaching in some reserve forest and national parks of the State, including the Kaziranga National Park, raise suspicion over the prospect of rhinos in the State, the growth of this mammal in the State is positive and the number is increasing every year.

Giving details of the rhino population in the park, Das said there are 30 rhinos here as of now. Eighteen rhinos were translocated from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kaziranga National Park, while 10 were rehabilitated by the Wildlife Trust of India. Moreover, 11 calves were born within the park, raising the rhino population to 39. Meanwhile, one rehabilitated rhino died of ailments, while as many as eight were killed by poachers during the last four years.

Das termed the year 2013 as the most unfortunate one for the park as a total of five rhinos were killed by poachers that year. He said one rhino was killed in each year in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Das is, however, optimistic of the increase in the number of rhinos in the park as several measures were adopted to check poaching and security in the entire park has been enhanced.

Regarding poaching in the park and in some other areas in the State, Das said that sophisticated arms were used by only a few poachers till a few years back but now even small-time poachers also have sophisticated weapons. He attributed it to easy availability of smuggled arms in the State and some neighbouring States as well. He acknowledged the need of sophisticated arms to the forest guards who also need to be trained adequately to take on the poachers. In spite of all the negative factors, the number of rhino in the State, including that of Kaziranga has been rising, though not as fast as expected, he affirmed.

It may be mentioned here that the Manas Natuonal Park-cum-Tiger Project is the first destination in the country to translocate rhinos as part of the ambitious IRV 2020 project. IRV 2020 envisages a target of 3,000 rhinos within the year 2020. As the ecology of Manas is very conducive for this mammal, with sufficient food, there is tremendous prospect of growth of this animal within the park. Though sporadic incidents of poaching ignite apprehension, it is expected the stakeholder of IRV 2020 will leave no stone unturned to make the mission a successful one.

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