Rescued endangered rhinos one step closer to the wild

Rescued endangered rhinos one step closer to the wild
Tuesday, 9 January, 2018
Washington, DC

Three female rhino calves rescued from monsoon floods that devastated Kaziranga National Park in 2016 and hand-raised at the IFAW-WTI Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) were translocated to Manas National Park for eventual rehabilitation into the wild.

The three calves were rescued from floodwaters in their namesake regions of Haldhibari, Deopani and Sildubi thanks to efforts from IFAW-WTI’s Mobile Veterinary Service (MVS) unit, the Assam Forest Department and local people. , . Yesterday afternoon, following final health checks by IFAW-WTI veterinarians, the calves were loaded into individual transportation vehicles to begin the 370-kilometre road journey from Kaziranga to Manas.

“We’re pleased the translocation was a success. This is a key step in the repopulation of Manas National Park. Once decimated by civil unrest, IFAW and WTI are committed to bringing the park back to life. Keystone species, like elephants and rhinos, will provide opportunities for other species to thrive as well. These rhinos have made a significant step in their rehabilitation back to the wild,” says Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare at IFAW.

CWRC’s lead veterinarian Dr Panjit Basumatary, veterinarian Dr Samshul Ali, and a team of animal keepers cared for the three calves from the moment they were brought to the centre. Speaking on behalf of the team, Dr Basumatary said: “It is a matter of great pleasure for us at CWRC that with the whole-hearted support of the Assam Forest Department and countless wildlife lovers and well-wishers, we have been able to hand-raise these rescued calves. Now, we are on the verge of releasing them back to the wild in Manas National Park, following our established rhino rehabilitation protocol.”

Not exceeding 40-50 kmph (given road conditions and winter fog), the convoy arrived at Manas at 5.30am. The rhinos were transferred from the vehicles to a pre-release boma between 7.30am and 8.00am in the presence of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and other senior forest department officials.

“The translocation has been successful and the calves are none the worse for wear following their long journey”, said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, WTI’s Head Veterinarian (North East) and head of the IFAW-WTI Greater Manas Conservation Project. “They will be carefully monitored in the boma for a period and eventually, once we are certain they are properly acclimatised, released into the wild. They will be the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth rhinos rehabilitated into Manas by IFAW-WTI, marking another significant milestone in our collective efforts to restore the national park to its former glory.”

IFAW and WTI have been working in concert with the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and the Assam Forest Department since 2003 to ‘Bring Back Manas’, a UNESCO World Heritage Siteravaged by militancy through the late 1980s and 1990s. The rehabilitation of flood-rescued rhinos into Manas is one part of this long-term project and has seen great success. In 2013, the first wild rhino calf was born in India to a mother hand-raised by IFAW-WTI and five additional calves have been born since.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on social at @action4ifaw and Facebook/IFAW

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