Other States

Rhinos without borders is conservation credo

Asian wildlife protection experts place emphasis on expanding the species’ domain to boost population

International boundaries will not come in the way of conservation of rhinos, said representatives of Asian countries where the one-horned herbivore thrives.

The New Delhi Declaration adopted at the second meeting of the Asian rhino range countries that ended on Thursday underscored trans-boundary collaboration among India, Nepal, and Bhutan for the conservation and protection of the greater one-horned rhino. There are no rhinos in Bhutan, but some from the Manas National Park in adjoining Assam or Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal are known to cross over occasionally.

Emphasis was also laid on expanding rhino domains within a country or between rhino range countries. Indonesia and Malaysia are the other Asian countries where the last of the rhinos live.

The current global population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros is 3,584. Assam’s Kaziranga National Park has the bulk of 2,938 rhinos in India while Nepal 646.

Once ranging from China to Bangladesh, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are nearing extinction.

The Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhino species and the only Asian rhino with two horns, became extinct in the wild in Malaysia. “There is only one found now in the Sabah island of Malaysia while Indonesia has a few,” Assam-based Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, the chair of Asian Rhino Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, said. IUCN expands to International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Among the other decisions taken at the New Delhi meeting of the Asian rhino range countries was “making the best use of all available individuals and technologies” to accelerate natural and conservation breeding of the critically endangered Sumatran rhino.

Emulating India

Part of the plan has been to replicate or develop upon the Kaziranga rhino conservation success story for Sumatran as well as the Javan rhino. Kaziranga had less than 10 rhinos when it was declared a protected area for the animal in 1905.

On February 26, the National Rhino Conservation Strategy for India called for active engagement between India and Nepal to protect the species.

The plan said the single population of rhinos in Sukla-Phanta (Nepal), Valmiki Tiger Reserve (India) and Chitwan National Park (Nepal) and Dudhwa (India) is separated by the political boundary between the two countries.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 10:50:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rhinos-without-borders-is-conservation-credo/article26400633.ece

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