WWF Helps Move Two Indian Rhinos to New Home in an Effort to Increase Population

Two female rhinos translocated to India’s Manas National Park as part of a plan to protect the vulnerable species

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Tranqulized rhino at Pobitora ©WWF India - Dipankar Ghose

"This successful translocation is a huge step forward for the survival of this magnificent species,"

Sybille Klenzendorf, Director of Species Conservation for World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Washington, DC (Vocus/PRWEB) December 30, 2010

Two female Indian rhinoceros – one adult and one juvenile – were translocated to Manas National Park today from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, India as part of an ambitious effort to increase their numbers in Assam to from 2,000 in 2005 to 3,000 by 2020. 

A year-long process of procuring tranquilizers, radio-collars and other equipment finally paid off as a specially trained team released the two rhinos in the Basbari range in the central part of the Manas National Park. The rhinos were captured in Pobitora on December 28th and transported by road in specially designed crates to Manas, under strict security and veterinary assistance. They will be closely monitored for the next few months. The Indian rhinoceros is currently listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"This successful translocation is a huge step forward for the survival of this magnificent species," said Sybille Klenzendorf, Director of Species Conservation for World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "It's amazing to see the hard work of so many people pay off with a safe, successful operation."

The translocation is an integral part of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020), a joint program of the Department of Environment and Forests of the Government of Assam, WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), with support from the Bodoland Territorial Council, US Fish & Wildlife Service and local communities. The program’s vision is to increase Assam’s rhino population to 3,000 by 2020, which will be done by wild-to-wild translocations from Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Manas and Dibru Saikhowa National Parks and Laokhowa and Burachopari Wildlife Sanctuaries. Assam accounts for the largest population of Indian rhinoceros in the world. Although rhino numbers in the state have grown from 2,000 in 2005 to over 2,200 in 2009, more than 90 percent of these are concentrated in Kaziranga National Park. IRV 2020 aims to secure the long-term survival of wild rhinos in Assam by expanding their distribution to reduce risks like disease, in-breeding depression and mass mortality.

The first phase of wild-to-wild translocations under IRV 2020 was carried out in April of 2008 when two male rhinos were re-introduced into Manas National Park from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. During the current second phase, a total of eighteen rhinos will be translocated from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaziranga National Park to Manas National Park in several batches. As with the earlier translocations, the adult female has been fitted with a radio-collar, and both will be monitored continuously through the next year by the staff of Manas National Park with support from WWF-India.
 WWF-India has been preparing the ground for this second phase of translocations for the past year, with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Forests of the Government of Assam. WWF-India’s field teams at Manas National Park have been monitoring the rhinos and have been working with Park authorities to increase security for the released rhinos. WWF-India has also been working with local communities in a variety of conservation efforts around Manas National Park. This effort has also been supported by IRF, the WWF International AREAS program and WWF-US.

“The present rhino translocation is very important to initiate the next round of translocations in Assam," said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, head of WWF-India’s Eastern Himalayas Program. “It has strengthened the confidence of all teams involved. Given the excellent support received from the state Forest Department and the administration, this is also a landmark achievement for active management of species involving different stakeholders.”

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WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.

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    World Wildlife Fund
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