Bringing back Manas National Park: the rhino that started it all gives birth

Cause for celebration: Maino, the first rhino ever to be released into Manas kickstarting a crucial program to repopulate the park’s rhinos, has given birth. Pictured here taking a swim with her new born calf, Mainao was rescued in 2002 and moved to Manas in 2006. She was the first rhino to walk this UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the species reintroduction programme. She had been missing since May 26th and our team had suspected that she may be pregnant. She was first sighted with her new born on June 2nd.There’s more good news coming out of Manas National Park in Assam, India.

Mainao, the first rhino to be hand-reared and rehabilitated in the wild in India by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)-Wildlife Trust of India, has given birth to a healthy calf.

It’s success stories like this one that makes us so proud of the work we do and so grateful to our supporters for their help.

IFAW is committed to hands-on care for individual animals and Mainao proves our strategy of carefully tending to orphaned rhinos and releasing them back into the wild really works.

Mainao and her healthy calf were sighted at the Rupahi Camp in Bhuyanpara range of Manas on June 2. Mainao is well named. It means Lakshmi in Bodo. Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity.

This birth follows that of a female calf born to Ganga, another rhino that IFAW-WTI rehabilitated and released into Manas in 2007. Ganga was rescued as a three-month-old calf from floods in Kaziranga National Park in June 2004 by the Assam Forest Department.

Mainao was the first rhino ever to be released into Manas kickstarting a crucial program to repopulate the park’s rhinos, which were annihilated during civil warfare in the 1980s and 1990s.

She was only a few weeks old when the Assam Forest Department rescued her from flood waters in Kaziranga National Park in July 2002. She was brought to the IFAW Wildlife Rescue Centre near Kaziranga.

Over the next four years, she was hand-raised by the IFAW-WTI team at CWRC, and eventually moved to Manas with great fanfare.

Mainao was “soft-released” into a spacious boma (a temporary enclosure) spanning about 33 acres at Bansbari Range. The boma ensured she would be protected from predators, while allowing her to acclimate to being on her own.

Including Mainao and Ganga, five hand-raised rhinos--three females and two males—now roam Manas NP.

I’d like to congratulate the entire team at IFAW’s Wildlife Rescue Centre who raised and cared for Mainao and these other calves.

I’d also like to congratulate our supporters who make it possible for IFAW-WTI to care for and release these precious rhinos into the wild.

During the severe civil conflict in the 1980s and 1990s, many species in the park were decimated, leading UNESCO to declare Manas a World Heritage Site in danger in 1992.

Since the early 2000s when peace was restored in the region, IFAW-WTI has been assisting in a variety of wildlife welfare and conservation programs such as the reintroduction of rhinos.

In 2011, UNESCO lifted the “in danger” tag off Manas. That was one significant milestone crossed, and there are many more to go.

I look forward to bringing you more good news, as our dedicated team work with the local communities and authorities to restore this paradise to its former glory.


Read more about IFAW’s wildlife care and release programs.

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy