Two rehabilitated rhinos released to wild in Manas

The release of Purabi and Dwimalu brings the total count of rhinos released by IFAW-WTI and Assam Forest Department to 10.Two rhinos, Purabi and Dwimalu, having undergone acclimatisation at an enclosure set up by Wildlife Trust of India, International Fund for Animal Welfare (WTI-IFAW) and the Assam Forest Department, were released to the wild in Manas National Park this afternoon. This brings the total count of rhinos released by IFAW-WTI and Assam Forest Department to the magic double digit figure of 10.

The Deputy Chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kampa Borgoyary, who cut the green ribbon across the boma to release the rhinos, said, “Every wild animal adds to the pride we feel in Manas, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, that had almost lost everything in it. I am happy to see Manas regain its glory due to the good work by IFAW-WTI and the forest department.”

“Our conservation success in Manas would not have come about without the support of BTC,” said Vivek Menon, ED and CEO of WTI and Senior Advisor to the President of IFAW. “We have worked for over a decade to bring back Manas from the brink of destruction and while each animal released here adds to our pride, I hope each human staying around Manas also feels the responsibility of preserving this natural heritage,” he added.

Rescued as a calf, Purabi was under care at the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) and was moved to Manas National Park to join Dwimalu, an orphaned rhino calf being hand-reared there by the Forest Department with assistance by IFAW-WTI. This was done to increase the rehabilitation prospects of Dwimalu who was just a few weeks old and deprived of company since its mother was poached.

Purabi was separated from her mother during the floods in 2012 in Kaziranga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. She was rescued by Assam Forest Department and local people near the Haldibari area and admitted to CWRC and later moved to a boma housing Dwimalu at Manas National Park in 2013. CWRC was established in 2002 as a joint initiative of IFAW-WTI with Assam Forest Department.

The Deputy Chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kampa Borgoyary, cut the green ribbon across the boma to release the rhinos.

At Manas, both of these calves were together for about two years before being released following established rhino rehabilitation protocols that included hand-rearing, weaning before acclimatisation in the pre-release boma.

The rhino reintroduction in Manas kickstarted in 2006, with the move of Mainao, a female rhino rescued from the Kaziranga floods and rehabilitated here. Mainao was the first rhino to set foot in this UNESCO World Heritage Site since its entire population was wiped out during the years of civil unrest that ended in early 2000s.

The IFAW-WTI team has now released 10 rhinos in Manas since 2006, augmenting the rhino population with five more calves birthed in the wild – a major conservation achievement for the project and a renewed hope for the species in Manas. 

--RG

Related: Rehabilitated rhino gives birth to second calf in the wild

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