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Four more rhinos moved to India’s Manas National Park

26/02/2012 12:52:12 First rhinos to be moved from Kaziranga
February 2012. "Sounds like a plan!" is a common expression these days, one that signifies agreement of purpose and confidence that a particular strategy will work. Indian Rhino Vision 2020 is just such a plan, one that will ultimately secure the future for the threatened greater one-horned rhinoceros.

On Sunday, February 19, wildlife biologists captured four greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) in India's Kaziranga National Park and safely transported them to Manas National Park, approximately 50 kilometres away. This operation is part of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 program, a partnership that includes the government of Assam, the International Rhino Foundation(IRF), the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Bodoland Territorial Council and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Assam rhinos
The transfer is part of an effort to build the rhino population in the state of Assam to 3,000 animals by the year 2020. Around the turn of the 20th century, the number of greater one-horned rhinos had been reduced to only a few hundred animals due to habitat loss and poaching, but wild populations are now better protected and being managed to repopulate areas in which the species had previously been eradicated. Read more or scroll down.

 Moved from Kaziranga

The four animals moved to Manas (one male and three females) were the first to be taken from Kaziranga. IRF's Asian Program Coordinator, Dr. Bibhab KumarTalukdar, helped organize and carry out the operation. Rhino captures began in early morning and were completed just after noon. Two of the animals were estimated at 10 years of age and two at about three years of age. Translocation to Manas was carried out at night to take advantage of cooler temperatures, and the unusual caravan of crated pachyderms was accorded a police escort. The captured rhinos were fitted with radio transmitters prior to their release so that their movements can be regularly monitored in the months ahead. This was only the second time that the translocation of four rhinos was attempted in a single day, but both transfers have been successful.

75% of India's rhinos
Together, India's Kaziranga National Park and Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary currently hold about 75% of the world's greater one-horned rhino population, and thus serve as a source of animals for repopulating other protected areas. Poachers killed the last remaining rhinos in Manas National Park in the 1990s and it wasn't until a few years ago that a return could be attempted. Since 2008, four male and six female rhinos were translocated from Pabitora to Manas.

Further relocations
In addition to Manas, greater one-horned rhinos from Kaziranga will eventually be sent to Laokhawa Wildlife Sanctuary and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park to increase and disperse the number of wild populations as insurance against extinction. For Indian Rhino Vision 2020 to meet its goal, Assam's rhino population will have to increase by about 800 animals over the next eight years, representing a growth rate of approximately 4% per year. This is certainly realistic if translocations and ongoing protection efforts continue to be successful.

Monsoons will arrive in northern India within the next few months and translocation operations will be postponed until late fall. In the interim, we will provide updates regarding the status of India's relocated rhinos. We wish to thank those who have generously supported this initiative, especially the American Association of Zoo Keepers, Amersfoort Zoo, Zoo CERZA, Denver Zoo, Evansville Zoo, Government of Assam, Los Angeles Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, Taronga Conservation Society Australia, US Fish and Wildlife Service, WWF-AREAS, WWF-India, and Zoo Basel.

IRF would love to have your help in their efforts to conserve greater one-horned rhinos! Held the rhino by donating here.

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