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Translocated rhino poached just weeks after giving birth in Manas National Park, India

08/04/2013 23:00:36
world/Asia/asia_2012/Rhino-17_and_calf_Jamir-Ali-WWF-India

The rhino calf was rescued by a joint team of WWF-India, Assam State Forest Department and partner NGOs. It is now kept under continuous supervision of veterinarians. WWF is helping the partners monitor the calf, and will also help in rehabilitation.

Rhino had a calf just a few weeks old
April 2014. A rhino that Wildlife Extra reported on just a few days ago as having given birth in India's Manas National Park has been killed by poachers. This is the fourth translocated rhino to have been lost to poachers in Manas in the last two years and the latest in a surge of poaching plaguing India's State of Assam where 16 greater one-horned rhinos have been killed already this year.

Diane Walkington, director of international programmes at WWF-UK said: "This is incredibly sad news. We had such high hopes for this rhino and her new calf, with the birth being a wonderful sign that the rhinos are adapting to their new environment after being translocated over a hundred miles across the country. But her death just goes to show the scale of the poaching problem and the need for serious action to protect this incredible species."


Horn and claws missing
The carcass was found on 2nd April 2013 with its horn and claws missing and later identified as ‘Rhino 17' by the team monitoring its progress after translocation to the Park in 2012. It was last seen alive on 28th March with its calf.

Translocated rhinos
Out of the 18 rhinos translocated to Manas National Park only 14 remain alive now. The rhinos have been translocated under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme (IRV 2020) - a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam, WWF-India, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Bodoland Territorial Council and supported by a number of local organisations.

Strengthened security
In spite of the support provided under IRV 2020 to Manas National Park to upgrade its infrastructure and monitoring capabilities to enable better protection for the translocated rhinos the poaching of rhinos is continuing unabated. After the previous poaching of a translocated rhino in Manas at the beginning of this year, a series of decisions were taken by the Assam Forest Department to strengthen security and patrolling in the National Park. However, they have not been able to stop poaching in Manas as is apparent from the latest incident.

The high demand for rhino horn from East Asian countries through the illegal wildlife trade continues to pose the greatest threat for the rhinos of Assam. After decades of conservation success which resulted in the population of rhinos in the state rising to approximately 2,400 currently, the spike in poaching over the last couple of years and the increasing use of sophisticated weapons to kill rhinos seems to indicate that poaching networks are strengthening.

WWF-India remains committed to the conservation of rhinos through the IRV 2020 programme, but feels that further translocation of rhinos to Manas could be done only after effective protection measures are established to ensure zero poaching in the Manas National Park. We are working closely with the Government to secure the remaining translocated rhinos in the Park.

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