Rhino census to be held in Assam from March 15



Rhino census to be held in Assam from March 15 Guwahati: A census of Assam's world famous one-horned rhinos will be undertaken from March 15, a forest department official said Tuesday. The 2009 census had put the number at almost 2,200.

While the census operation will begin at the Orang National Park March 15, the rhinos of the Pabitora wildlife sanctuary will be covered on March 20, the official said.

Two days - March 26 and March 27 - have been allotted for Kaziranga National Park keeping in view the large number of rhinos in the national park.

According to the 2009 census, there were 2,196 rhinos in Assam -- 2,048 in Kaziranga, 84 in Pabitora and 64 in Orang.

"We are going to use camera trap technology for the census and preparations are on in full swing for March 15," said a senior official. He added they are hopeful that the census at Pabitora and Orang will be completed in one single day each as the number of rhinos in the two parks is small.

Kaziranga is one of the most famous destinations for foreign and domestic tourists in Assam because of its large number of one-horned rhinos, which can be easily sighted. The rare species is also found in Pobitara, Orang and Manas National Parks, (Assam), Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh) and in some places in Nepal.

The forest officials have to struggle for the protection and conservation of the one-horned rhinos as poachers target the animal for its horn, which is in high demand in the markets of many southeast Asian countries and China where it is valued for its believed medicinal and aphrodisiacal properties.

The Assam forest department, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and International Rhino Foundation (IRF) have started a joint ptogramme for trans-location of the rhinos to Manas National Park in Assam aiming to attain a population of 3,000 rhinos in the wild in seven protected areas of Assam by 2020.

The programme also aims at securing the long-term survival of the wild one-horned rhinos in Assam by expanding their distribution to all the protected areas.

IANS