Three Dudhwa rhinos to be relocated within the park

February 06, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 07:39 am IST - LAKHIMPUR KHERI:

There are 33 rhinos in the Dudhwa National Park

There are 33 rhinos in the Dudhwa National Park

Three female rhinos would soon have a new home within the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh as the number of the endangered animals has gone up in the range where they are at present located.

The DNP administration will shift the rhinos from Dudhwa Rhino Rehabilitation Area (RRA) to the newly developed additional RRA at Bhadi Tal in Belrayan range.

Confirming the relocation programme, Deputy Director P. P. Singh said, “If things go normally, the three female rhinos from Dudhwa would be shifted to the new RRA at Bhadi Tal by mid February”.

“Tranqilizing material to be procured from Nandan Kanan has been ordered for the purpose,” Mr Singh said, adding that a proposal to bring in more rhinos from Kaziranga Park in Assam is in the final phase.

“Already, a migratory rhino pair has been staying at Bhadi Tal RRA and after shifting of three female rhinos, there would be five rhinos, including a male,” he said.

“The new rhino area would not only help accommodate the fresh rhino arrivals but help to boost gene diversity among the Dudhwa rhinos,” the Deputy Director said.

Interestingly, the rhino rehabilitation programme in Dudhwa had also been started in 1984 with just five rhinos.

Till 1850, Dudhwa forests enjoyed a rich presence of rhinos till 1850. However, owing to various factors, the rhinos became extinct from this Terai land.

After the establishment of Dudhwa National Park in 1977, fresh exercise was started to re-introduce the animals in Dudhwa and on April 1, 1984, five rhinos were relocated into a specially-designed fenced rhino rehabilitation area (RRA) in south Sonaripur range in an area of 27 sq km. The rich flora and fauna and the ideal habitat there suited the rhinos and their population rose to the present 33 despite several odds, mr Singh said.

An urgent need was felt to develop another RRA owing to the growing Rhino population, he said.

Another major factor behind the establishment of a fresh rhino area were the apprehensions of genetic pollution.

According to experts, the rhino population of Dudhwa is mostly the offsprings of a single male, Bankey which has led to apprehensions of gene pollution even though various studies have ruled out any infirmities in Dudhwa rhinos. DNA sampling on Dudhwa rhinos was also carried out a few years back but their results are yet to be received, he said.

However, to avoid any risk of genetic pollution and to accommodate the growing population, Dudhwa authorities in 2002 decided to develop 31 sq km area at Bhadi Tal in Belrayan range into the second RRA. It was almost completed in 2011.

Both RRAs are quite identical in terms of habitat, climate, flora and fauna.

Last year in February, efforts were made to relocate the rhinos but the programme did not materialize. Meanwhile, a migratory rhino pair from Nepal eased the situation when it permanently stayed in the new RRA enclosure. - PTI

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