Two sub-adult male rhinos, named Gopal and Hari, were relocated to Manas National Park from the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Kaziranga the other day. The rhinos will be released in the wild following a period of in situ acclimatisation in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
They follow the five rhinos – three females and two males – who were hand-reared and rehabilitated after they were found in 2006. The three females gave birth last year, proving that the rehabilitated animals are thriving in the wild.
Gopal was found alone in March 2009 in Baruntika and Hari later in August in Haldhibari. It is not known why or how they were separated from their mother. Following the proven rhino rehabilitation protocol of our centre, they were hand-reared in Kaziranga. Both are now about four years old now.
Apart from Gopal and Hari and the five already released in Manas, there are five additional calves currently being hand-reared by IFAW-WTI staff: three at the centre and two in Manas.
“We hope these male rhinos too will bring new genes to the Manas rhino population,” says MK Yadava, Chief Conservator of Forest and Director, Kaziranga National Park. Our cooperative team will be monitoring these rhinos throughout their acclimatisation and after their release in the wild.
Rehabilitation is only one of the several components of our larger Greater Manas Conservation Project in collaboration with the Assam Forest Department, Bodoland Territorial Council, local communities and several community-based organisations (CBOs).
The project also carries out capacity building of the frontline staff as well as the CBOs that work with the authorities in wildlife conservation in the region to help them better protect the rhinos and other wildlife of the region. It also pursues a number of community development projects, including a weaving employment program and distribution of fuel-efficient stoves to reduce tree-felling in the area.
“We are extremely happy that two more of these rhinos, who arrived as young calves and were raised by our team there, are now ready to take the step towards returning to the wild,” says Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI and Regional Director – South Asia, IFAW.