New Delh: Amidst rampant poaching of rhinos in Assam, there is a reason to cheer.
Two translocated rhinos to the Manas National Park from other sanctuaries in the state have given birth.
Rhino 17, translocated to the Park in 2012, and Rhino 8, translocated to it in 2011, were sighted on March 23 and yesterday respectively, with their new born calves by WWF- India researchers and Assam Forest Department staff involved in post-release monitoring of the single-horned pachyderms.
According to WWF-India, which is actively engaged in conservation of rhinos through the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) programme, Rhino 8 was translocated to Manas in January 2011 and it is certain that the mating with one of the translocated males and 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," it says. The two rhinos were translocated under the aegis of the IRV 2020.
It is 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 organisations.
A total of 18 rhinos, 10 from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and eight from the Kaziranga National Park-- have been translocated so far to the Manas National Park.
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.
"It is now important to ensure the safety of these newborn calves and their mothers as well as the other rhinos in Manas so that the vision of establishing a viable rhino population is achieved over the long term," says a WWF-India statement issued here.
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.