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SOS Rhino : In the News : Kaziranga rhinos to move to new homes in Manas

Kaziranga rhinos to move to new homes in Manas

Postd on 10 Nov 2005

Zafri Mudasser Nofil, Manas (Assam): Some of the rhinoceroses from Assam's famed Kaziranga National Park will soon be relocated to a nearby sanctuary as part of efforts by the government and wildlife groups to increase the animal's population.

The Assam government plans to almost double the population of the endangered one-horned rhinos in the state to 3,000 by 2020. The current rhino population is about 1,700.

Mounting problems due to recurrent floods and man-animal conflicts at Kaziranga and Pobitora, another rhino habitat in Assam, have prompted officials to relocate the species to safer locations like the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary.

Manas in lower Assam is considered safe from the floods that affect the state every year during the monsoons.

In the initial phase of the programme, some 20-25 rhinos will be moved from Kaziranga to Manas.

Rathin Burman of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), who supervises the rhino rehabilitation station at the Manas sanctuary, said the first rhino from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation at Kaziranga would be transported to Manas in December.

"The rhino will be kept in a pre-release enclosure of the park before being released in the wild," Burman told IANS.

"The animal will be released only when a favourable atmosphere - in terms of its security and sufficient foraging ground - is established."

WTI is actively participating in the rhino conservation programme at Manas along with the Assam forest department.

There are about 60 villages on the periphery of the Manas sanctuary and their support will be crucial for wildlife conservation.

Burman said his interactions with the villagers had been "very positive" and their help would enhance the conservation efforts of the state government.

Manas is home to over 20 globally threatened species. Until a decade ago, hundreds of elephants, tigers, rhinos, bisons, leopards, different species of deer and wild cats were seen in the park.

Prolonged disturbances in the region caused by the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Bodo militants - who used Manas as a safe haven - and rampant poaching have affected the wildlife and their habitats.

The Manas sanctuary will celebrate its centenary year in December with a three-day programme starting Dec 12.

N. Ashraf, director of Wild Rescue WTI, said an expert group comprising members of the forest department and WTI chose Manas as an alternative site for the rhinos.

"The introduction of the rhinos is part of the centenary celebrations," he said.

Assam's forest department has unveiled a number of projects to be implemented in the coming years to revive the fading glory of Manas.

In addition, better civic amenities like transportation, communication, infrastructure and lodging facilities for visitors will be set up to restore the sanctuary to its position as a favoured tourist destination.

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