Three flood-rescued rhino calves explore their outdoor paddock

Three of the eight rhino calves rescued from the floods in Kaziranga National Park last month were introduced yesterday into an outdoor paddock at the wildlife rescue centre run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI) and the Assam Forest Department.

All eight rhino calves have been housed at the centre’s large animal nursery since being rescued.

The successful introduction of the three smallest calves into the makeshift paddock is an important step, since exercise, sunlight and the development of a grazing habit are vital to their recovery and eventual rehabilitation.

The paddock has been designed with two small ponds to encourage the calves to wallow, as they would in the wild.

The three rhinos are finding safe places to rest in the outdoor paddock.

While they initially seemed afraid of this new environment the calves have now come to accept it. They are being monitored constantly and have been seen finding themselves a safe place to rest and grazing as the desire strikes them.

READ: Kaziranga Flood Update: Rescue centre inundated with rescued rhino calves

“We first tried to place the oldest of these three calves into the paddock with an older calf that was rescued in the floods last year”, said Dr Panjit Basumatary, lead veterinarian. “The younger calf did not like this. Over the next two days we began bringing the three calves out into the paddock together and feeding them milk here. This plan seems to have worked. As their stress and fear regarding this new habitat diminishes, they will stabilise and do well outdoors.

Meanwhile, the five rhino calves still in the nursery are responding well to milk formula. Their wounds are being treated and they continue to have regular health check-ups. “It’s heartening to see them improve”, said Dr Samshul Ali, the veterinarian who was involved in most of the rescues and is now monitoring and treating the calves. “We’re hoping that all eight will be in outdoor paddocks soon, beginning the long process towards their rehabilitation back to the wild.”


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