In an attempt to keep in check the excess number of greater one-horned rhinoceros in Jaldapara and Gorumara National Parks, the forest ministry has come up with two new abodes in West Bengal. Currently, there are 250 rhinos in these two regions – 200 in Jaldapara, and 50 in Gorumara, which is quite a high number in comparison to the park’s capacity. The two new abodes that have been identified to absorb the excess rhinos are Buxa Tiger Reserve and a small reserve in Patlakhawa in Cooch Behar; both located in the North West Bengal.
Off lately, there has been a sudden depression in the number of one-horned rhinoceros mainly because of poaching for its horns and destruction of their habitat. There are approximately 2500 in India, out of which 90% are in Kaziranga National Park, and remaining in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Kaziranga National Park is more prone to destruction because of ongoing flood problems. So as to protect their population, the officials are emphasizing to increase their abodes.
Amit Sharma, WWF India’s senior coordinator for rhino conservation, says “It’s like keeping all your eggs in one basket. If something happens to your population, it’s gone. Moreover, if you have a small and closed population, its genetic quality is likely to go down. So it is best if you spread out your rhino population, give them enough space or connectivity, so they can also have a healthy gene pool.”
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In a meeting last year at Jaldapara National Park, Asian Rhino Specialist Group under the IUCN has urged the government to find new sites to absorb the increasing tiger population. During the meeting, Conservationists discussed the need for increasing the genetic diversity of the rhino populations in Jaldapara and Gorumara National Parks by allowing the exchange of healthy and breeding adult rhinos.
As per the survey held in 2015, there has been a sudden increase of rhino population in West Bengal. It’s a good sign that the rhino population is increasing but the poaching continues to be a major threat in West Bengal. Over the past few months, at least 11 rhinos have been killed in northern West Bengal, according to local media.
“In U.P. there is only one rhino population in Dudhwa National Park, which was set up through a translocation exercise undertaken from Assam and Nepal,” Sharma said. “The present population there is around 30 and is mostly confined to one area and is assumed to be bred out of just one male probably affecting the genetic health of the population. To improve the genetic health and to have a new population, the U.P. Forest Department is planning to set up a new population in a separate area within the Dudhwa National Park.”
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