Conservationists welcome census report, call for effective rhino protection
(> 1 to 3 yrs)
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 28: The population of one-horned rhinoceros rose in Kaziranga by 3.09 per cent in the last two years, despite the threat posed to the animal by rampant poaching.
Conservationists have expressed happiness at the growth trend and described it as another instance of "conservation success" at the park.
The results of the census carried out since March 24 were declared this evening.
According to this year’s census, the rhino population in the Unesco World Heritage Site stood at 2,401, as compared to 2,329 in 2013 – an increase of 72 in number.
According to the official report, 205 rhino calves below one year of age were also spotted during the census.
During the last three years – from January, 2013 till date – 61 rhinos have been poached in the park. A few were also killed outside the park area.
“We have spotted a number of calves…which means that the breeding pattern has been healthy. It is a healthy sign,” said Wildlife Trust of India deputy director Dr Rathin Barman, who was part of the exercise.
Dr Bibhav Talukdar of Aaranyak also had similar views but added that the growth of rhino population now demands the Kaziranga authority to include the remaining additions of the park under its jurisdiction to provide adequate space for the animals. “To protect the state animal, young and energetic personnel should be recruited as frontline staff and the vacant posts of forest officials and personnel filled at the earliest,” he said.
For the first time, enumerators at the ongoing rhino census at Kaziranga tiol Park are using GPS devices fitted with camera to eble a near-accurate data of the mammal population, besides aiding creation of an image database of the endangered inmates.
A total of 40 enumerators, 22 independent observers, 16 media personnel in 36 elephants were engaged in the exercise for which the park was divided into 81 compartments.
Accompanied by observers, the enumerators, which comprise forest officials, NGO representatives, media persons and social activists, also used sophisticated binoculars.
The GPS devices fitted with camera will ensure that the operation is “well-spread” and “all compartments are touched.”