A census of rhinoceros will begin at the Gorumara National Park in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district from Wednesday. The objective of the exercise is to assess their population and the male-female ratio, and monitor changes in the habitat of the animal listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“The two-day exercise by the State Forest department will focus on direct sightings of the animal in about 110 sq. km area which includes the national park,” Sumita Ghatak, Divisional Forest Officer, Jalpaiguri, told The Hindu over phone.

Pointing out that no death of one-horned rhinoceros has been reported from the national park since the last census in 2012, she expressed the hope that the number would rise in this census.

In the census carried out in 2012, there were 43 rhinoceros in the national park which included 14 adult male rhinos and 11 female rhinos, Ms. Ghatak said, adding that the rest included sub-adult males, females and calves.

Commenting on the skewed male-female ratio, the forest officials said ideally the population ratio should be three female rhinoceros for a male rhinoceros. “One of the objectives of the census is to monitor the changes in the habitat of rhinoceros,” Ms. Ghatak said, pointing out that the census would help in identifying areas more conducive to their habitat.

Other than Gorumara, the Jaldapara national park in the same district is the largest habitat of rhinoceros in the State with their number being about 180. As per the last census, it is the second-largest habitat of the one-horned rhinoceros in the country after the Kaziranga national park in Assam.