One-horned rhino population crosses 4,000-mark

However, the future of African rhino remains a worry a report released on the eve of International Rhino Day states
Last Updated : 22 September 2022, 02:27 IST

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Decisive action against poaching, in conjunction with habitat creation, has helped increase the population of the greater one-horned rhinoceros—found only in India, Nepal and Bhutan—to 4,014, even as the future of other rhino species in Africa and Indonesia remained of concern, an international report revealed on Wednesday.

The number of the one-horned rhinos was 426 higher than the tally reported in 2018, as stated by the State of Rhino Report 2022, released by the International Rhino Foundation on the eve of International Rhino Day.

“The population is growing largely due to the governments of India and Nepal creating habitat for rhinos, while also preventing poaching,” said the report.

The population of the greater one-horned rhinos increased at a time when the population of rhinos in Africa and Indonesia either decreased or showed only slight increase. A decade ago, the population of the one-horned rhino was 2,454.

Of the 2,613 one-horned rhinos recorded in India, Assam’s Kaziranga National Park is the largest habitata for the species (2,613), followed by Jaldapara National Park in Bengal (287), Orang National Park in Assam (125), Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (107), Gorumara National Park in Bengal (52), Manas National Park in Assam (40) and Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh (38). Kaziranga alone reported 200 more rhinos than the number recorded in 2018.

The report also talked about the government’s move to increase the area of Orang National Park by about 200 sq km, connecting it to the Laokhowa and Burasapori wildlife sanctuaries, to build a larger landscape corridor for the rhinos and other threatened species.

“This increase follows several expansions of Kaziranga National Park in recent years, which have added 919.48 sq km to the park. With NGO partners, including the IRF, the government of Assam initiated translocations of rhinos within protected areas of Assam to give rhinos more room to breed,” the report said. “The state government also closes all rhino-bearing protected areas in Assam to visitors during breeding season,” it said.

The India Rhino Vision 2020, under which rhinos were translocated from Kaziranga to Manas National Park also inched closer to its target of 3,000 rhinos.

Manas National Park straddles the border between India and the Kingdom of Bhutan. Rhinos are known to cross between the countries and are included in the population figures for India.

“Poaching remains a threat, but authorities in India have had great success in significantly reducing poaching through intense security and strict enforcement of wildlife crime laws. In 2021, there was only one recorded poaching incident. There has been only one recorded incident in the first half of 2022 as well,” the State of Rhino Report 2022 stated.

The rhino population in Nepal, too, has gone up to 752, which is 107 more than the number in 2015. There is a three per cent annual increase in the number of rhinos. Nepal witnessed 37 rhino deaths in 2021 but only one was classified as a poaching incident, said the report.

Published 21 September 2022, 16:12 IST

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