Rescued Assam rhino’s new-born marks new success

Manas (Assam), April 24 (IANS) Conservationists are delighted that a rhino which was reared at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) has given birth in the wild, officials said.

After being reared at the centre for three years, the rhino was rehabilitated in 2007 in the Manas National Park, which falls in Bodoland Territorial Areas District. The birth occurred earlier this month.

Officials of the International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) said that in 2004, forest officials had rescued a female rhino during the annual floods in the Brahmaputra river.

The female was only a three-month-old calf when she was rescued. She was shifted to the CWRC near Kaziranga National Park.

Named Ganga, the female rhino was reared by veterinarians at the CWRC, and released into the wild in 2007 as part of the rhino translocation programme.

“We have been able to photograph Ganga and her calf,” said Vivek Menon, WTI executive director who is also regional director-South Asia, IFAW.

Menon explained that the birth is very special.

“The situation of rhinos across the world has been depressing, with so many poached for their horns in the past year. In this seemingly bleak scenario, the instances like this are what keep us optimistic and spirited to do more,” said a happy Menon.

“The new-born is a healthy female and has been named Dharati, meaning earth, as a tribute,” he said.

Dharati’s birth marks a milestone in the Rhino Rehabilitation Project, a joint venture of the Assam Forest Department and International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) that hand-raises orphaned or displaced calves to rehabilitate them in the wild.

“When Ganga was rescued in 2004, she was severely injured and traumatized, and our veterinarians and animal keepers worked hard to save her. Her ability to give birth exemplifies the balance of wildlife welfare and conservation that CWRC is known for,” said Rathin Barman, senior adviser, WTI, and CWRC in-charge.

The Manas National Park, located about 250 km from Assam’s main city Guwahati, had lost all its rhinos by the 1990s, as the area reeled under severe civil conflict.

The park, which was named a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1985, was declared as Workd Heritage Site in Danger by the international body due to its loss of wildlife during the ’90s.

A number of initiatives, including rhino reintroduction, have been implemented in the park since peace was largely restored in the region during early 2000.

It is only in 2011 that the park regained its World Heritage Site status by Unesco.

“Ganga was one of the first rhinos to reach Manas. This birth marks yet another crucial milestone in our efforts to bring Manas back to its former glory,” said Bhaskar Choudhury, regional head, IFAW-WTI.

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