Kaziranga’s iconic one-horned rhino population has risen by 12 individuals. The latest headcount of the armour-plated herbivore in Assam’s world-famous reserve put the estimated number at 2,413 rhinos. This is an increase of a dozen over the 2015 figure.
After a review of the data, State wildlife officials said fewer rhinos may have been sighted this time due to the incomplete burning of tall grasses and reeds. This could be due to high moisture content. Burning of grasses is necessary for regeneration of low-lying vegetation in the 434 sq. km. park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also faces annual floods.
“We estimated the rhino population to be 2,413 after a two-day exercise that ended on Tuesday. This estimate, as with the census of the past, is plus or minus 100,” N.K. Vasu, the State’s Chief Wildlife Warden, said.
Data released by the Assam Forest Department show that Kaziranga National Park now has 1,641 adult rhinos, of which 793 are females, 642 males and 206 ‘un-sexed’, which means the gender could not be ascertained. The number of sub-adult rhinos (four to six years old) was estimated to be 387, of which 149 are females, 116 males and 122 ‘un-sexed’. The calf count was 385. “Unlike past estimations, we had to deal with poor grass burning that could have led to under-counting. We could burn about 20% compared to normal mark of 60-70% every year,” Akashdeep Baruah, Director, KNP, told The Hindu . Kaziranga is the second of four habitats where the census was conducted. The first was at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati, where the count this time was 102, up from 93 in 2012.
The census at Manas National Park was over, and it would be done on April 2 in Orang National Park. Assam has an estimated 2,645 rhinos in all.