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SOS Rhino : In the News : Rhino project moves ahead
 

Rhino project moves ahead

  A STAFF REPORTER
The Telegraph: Calcutta, India
www.telegraphindia.com

Guwahati, July 8: The rhino translocation task force of the Assam government has identified Manas, Laokhowa and Dibru Saikhowa as three areas where rhinos could be translocated from Pobitora and Kaziranga.

The task force will chalk out an operational plan and decide on the safeguards and measures to be taken during the experiment, sources said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the rhino translocation task force here today, attended by officials of the Assam government, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Trust of India.

The officials decided on a minimum of three years for the translocation to take place.

For the project, the government will have to formulate a rhino translocation protocol in line with that of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The task force was constituted on June 30 last. A series of meetings will take place to decide on the modalities before the final go ahead is given.

A committee has been constituted for studying the security aspect of the habitats, which is crucial for such a major experiment. Another committee on food and habitat has also been formed.

Forest officials will also have to be trained for the exercise.

Sources said places like Manas and Laokhowa already faced the brunt of insurgents during the late Eighties when rhinos were killed in large numbers. Manas had to be categorised as an endangered world heritage site by Unesco.

“Poaching cannot be ruled out during the translocation experiment but this should not deter the authorities from going ahead with it,” a senior WWF official said. “If we cannot move out 10 rhinos due to security reasons, then even one rhino cannot be moved out,” another official said.

The rhino translocation experiment in Nepal was also discussed.

Officials said though the rehabilitation project of the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) was not to be confused with the proposed translocation project, it could provide useful information for the experiment.

A rhino calf which was rescued by officials from the floods in Kaziranga in 2003 will be released in Manas in October this year.

The CWRC situated in Kaziranga is the country’s only scientifically-managed wildlife rehabilitation and re-introduction centre.



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