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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rhinos fight for females

Rhinos fight for females

The Telegraph
Calcutta, India
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jalpaiguri, May 9: A skewed sex ratio is taking its toll on the rhinos in Gorumara National Park.

Without enough females around, rutting males are ripping each other apart in the fight for dominance, sending foresters scurrying in search of battle-scarred losers requiring medical attention.

The latest casualty, a four-year-old found battered near the Dhupjhora beat, is currently being tended to by the forest officials.

"This is the first time we are treating a wild rhino. Although animals sustain injuries while fighting for a mate, the wounds on this rhino were so severe that we decided to treat it ourselves," said Tapas Kumar Das, the Jalpaiguri divisional forest officer.

The treatment began on Friday and the officials, who dressed the wounds after tranquillising the animal, said they would keep it under observation for a week "until the wounds heal".

"A slant in the sex ratio is a forester's nightmare and the frequency of injuries among rhinos has confirmed our fears," a forest official said. "Cases of extreme injury also seem to be on the rise."

Forest department sources said the ideal male-female ratio should have been 1:2."But now, of the 25 rhinoceros in the park, 12 are males and 13 females."

Forest officials admitted that every female rhino born in the park would be vital for the survival of the rest. But things don't seem to be going that way. Three rhino deaths have been recorded in nine months. One of them was a seven-month-old female.

"If the ratio is not set right, the frequency of fights will rise and the animals will not get time to recuperate," Das said.

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