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SOS Rhino : In the News : Hate in mating season

Hate in mating season

  The Hindu
Online edition of India’s National Newspaper

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005

Marcus Dam

Nearly 1000 acres of largely grassland is to be added to the Gorumara National Park. The onehorned rhino population in the park is around 23 but the imbalance in the gender ratio is the cause for infighting.

KOLKATA: Instances of infighting among bull rhinos over the right to mate have led authorities of north Bengal's Gorumara National Park to acquire additional land. With this the animal's habitat area would be expanded. Nearly 1000 acres of largely grassland is to be added to Park - a move that is expected to also patch up a truncated elephant's corridor in the region.

The one-horned rhino population in the Park is around 23 but the imbalance in the gender ratio which is nearly one bull to three female rhinos is cause for infighting among its male population in the animal's habitat that occupies a small fraction of the total sanctuary area, Conservator of Forest [Wild Life], North Bengal Circle P. T. Bhutia, told The Hindu on Tuesday.

``Correcting the gender ratio and reducing it to the more suitable one bull-for-every-two females is altogether another matter. What we are hoping to ensure is more space for the rhinos that would reduce the chances of a bull rhino coming in the way of another while searching for his mating partner,'' Mr. Bhutia said.

Survey work to acquire the additional land for the Park is on, according to Mr. Bhutia. It will comprise mainly grassland, which is a suitable habitat for the rhino.

``The newly acquired land will also serve to maintain a now truncated elephant's corridor in the Jalpaiguri forest area". The sanctuary is home to between 30 to 40 elephants during the winter months. ``They stay on for nearly three months after which they move on to adjacent forests,'' he said.

Infighting among bull rhinos during the mating season has not just resulted in the weaker rhino sustaining injuries but there have also been incidents of death. ``The species adheres to a strict hierarchical code and a `mastan' [dominant] bull will not allow any other bull rhino to come anywhere close to the female. Normally it is the one that has turned weak with age which is attacked and forced to leave centre-stage,'' a forest official said.

The rhino population has been ``fragmented and localised'' over the region. The last time the animal was seen in the adjoining Buxa Tiger Reserve area was in 1968. Its habitat is now either the Jaldapara sanctuary or the Gurumara National Park though the space constraint has been a concern only in the latter.

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