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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : IFAW Works to Save Rhinos from Deadly Weed

IFAW Works to Save Rhinos from Deadly Weed

  International Fund for Animal Welfare
15 November '02

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its partner, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), are working to wipe out a deadly weed that is threatening the survival of the largest remaining population of the critically endangered greater one-horned rhino.

IFAW has committed US$15,000 in Kaziranga National Park, India, to help eradicate the invasive mimosa weed that is choking the grassland habitat of the rhinos.

Responding to an urgent request from the Forest Minister of the north-east Indian state of Assam, IFAW-WTI have already begun work in association with the forest department, physically uprooting the weed before it starts fruiting and spreads its seeds.

Kaziranga National Park, located in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra river, is one of the most important protected areas of the world and home to over 1,500 of the 2,000 surviving greater one-horned rhinos, as well as Asian elephants, tigers, many species of deer and the rare Asiatic wild buffalo.

"The scale of this problem is massive and the areas colonized by these weeds are under great danger. Luckily we are in time to help save these rhino and other wildlife, otherwise the food they need to survive would vanish," said Jo Fielder, IFAW's Emergency Relief vet.

Mimosa, which is native to South-East Asia, was imported by the Assam tea gardens in the sixties as an organic nitrogen fixer. These fast growing plants soon escaped from neighbouring tea gardens into the fertile grasslands of the Kaziranga National Park and started growing at exponential rates. A thorny creeper, mimosa created an impenetrable mat over three ranges of the park, choking edible grasses. Mimosa also releases a toxin called mimosin, which is particularly harmful to the rhino and other herbivores in the park, such as deer. Approximately 120 hectors of prime grassland has been affected by the weed.

"The only feasible way to eradicate this weed is to physically uproot it before it starts fruiting. As the seeds have been observed to have a three-year lifespan, the uprooting will have to be consistently done over the next three years," said Park Director N.K. Vasu. "The funding has come in good time to catch the deadline."


Nick Jenkins (IFAW) - UK Tel: 44 (0) 7799 883355; Email:
Aniruddha Mookerjee (WTI) - India Tel: 91 11 632 6025; Email:

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