Population estimation shows a 10% rise in Rhino numbers at Kaziranga NP, Assam
The 2009 census was conducted by Assam Forest Department in collaboration with Asian Rhino Specialist Group and with support from Aaranyak, International Rhino Foundation and WWF AREAS programme. The census operations drew the attention of a lot of environmentalists and NGO’s. Senior Forest officials were also a part of the census.
The Park and all its surrounding areas including Kukrakata RF were covered under the census operations. The entire area was divided into 72 census blocks of varied sizes. The census was conducted in two stages, the areas south of river Difolu was covered on day 1 and on day 2 the northern areas were mainly covered. Each census block was covered by an enumeration team consisting of at least three members on elephant back. The main enumerator was an experienced person, usually drawn from the forest department, NGO’s or a well known naturalist; who were supported by an experienced forest guard from the Park and a mahout. In addition there were a few observers who were monitoring the enumeration process in addition to providing necessary support for smooth and safe conduct of the operations by the Park authorities. Chief Conservator of Forests (WL) Mr. D. N. Singh, Mr N.K. Vasu (Director, Rain Forest Research Institute) and Field Director KNP, Mr. S.N. Buragohain were also present at the occasion of the commencement of the survey. On both the days the enumerators were picked up by vehicles early in the morning (4.30AM) and were transported to the respective starting points. The survey on elephant back commenced on each block simultaneously at about 5.00AM and was continued till the whole block was covered and every rhino individual was counted and recorded in the provided formats.
Most of the teams were lucky to see not only rhinos but also large numbers of elephants, buffalos and deers and few tigers. WWF-India was represented by Dr Pranab J. Bora, Mr Ramesh Bhatta, Dr. Garga M. Das and Mr. Amit Sharma.
Earlier, as a part of the same process, the rhino population estimation was carried out in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park on 24th March 2009. Mr. Hiten K. Baishya and Mr. Sanjay Gogoi from WWF-India participated in the process as enumerators. A total of 64 rhinos were counted in the operation and in the last census of 2006, 68 rhinos were recorded.
Similarly, census operation has been planned for Pobitora WLS to be undertaken in the last week of April or first week of May 2009. This will provide the present status of the rhinos in Assam as Manas NP the other rhino area in the state has 5 rhinos, 3 under the rehabilitation program and 2 re-introduced under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 program.
WWF-India’s Rhino program works on the following issues
*WWF AREAS programme is spread over all the rhino and elephant range countries.
*Fencing work in Manas: WWF and members of IRV 2020 - International Rhino Foundation, Bodoland Territorial Council, Assam FD and US Fish and Wildlife Services, have been working to erect an 8km long electric fence. WWF and the Assam FD have also garnered support from the local communities. This fence will help arrest the straying of rhinos, elephants and wild buffaloes, which raid crops and which in turn leads to conflict with the locals. This fence will also have an impact on grazing by cattle in the area and will help to keep the rhino habitat intact.
* Indian Rhino Vision 2020, popularly known as IRV 2020 aims to build a 3,000 strong rhino population spread across seven Protected Areas in Assam by the year 2020. The first phase of this project will involve translocation of about 20 rhinos from Kaziranga NP and Pobitara WLS to Manas NP. WWF is a member of the Translocation Core Committee and has been working closely with the Assam FD for arranging the translocations starting from helping in procuring the necessary equipment and drugs to capture and release of the rhinos.
*WWF has been providing emergency support to the Assam FD especially in Kaziranga and Orang NPs and Pobitora WLS in the form of assistance to construct anti-poaching and patrolling camps and giving equipment for anti-poaching activities, vehicles like jeeps, motorcycles, bikes and even a motorized boat. in addition to some need based staff welfare activities.
For further enquires please contact:
Dr Dipankar Ghose
Director- EHTA(Eastern Himalayas and Terai Arc)
Senior Manager -Communications