The Telegraph India | February 22, 2020
Two more rhinoceroses died in the Jaldapara National Park on Friday, taking the death toll to five in the past 72 hours.
Although the Bengal forest department said the cause of the deaths could be established only after test reports were available, some environmentalists said communicable diseases like anthrax might be the reason.
All the five rhinos are adult females and four of them died in the Sisamara beat of the park in Alipurduar district. The carcass of one rhino had been found in the Malangi beat on Wednesday night. The foresters had rescued a rhino calf which had been found near a carcass in the Sisamara beat.
Mounted on pet elephants, dozens of forest guards have started patrolling the Jaldapara park to find out if more rhinos or other herbivores are ill or dead.
Sources in the forest department said a rhino had been found dead in the Sisamara beat on Friday morning. Later in the evening, another rhino that had been spotted ill in the same area died.
“However, what left us surprised is that the calf that had been rescued on Wednesday from near the carcass of a female rhino that we suspect was its mother is doing well. If rhinos have died from any communicable disease, then the calf should also have the infection. We have kept it under the observation of vets,” said a senior forest officer.
The state animal resource development department has also been engaged to keep tabs on the rhinos in Jaldapara.
The foresters asked the residents of villages adjacent to the park to prevent cattle’s grazing in the Sisamara area as a precaution. “We would also make sure that no other wild herbivore enters Sisamara. If any animal is noticed, it will be steered to other areas of the park,” said the forest officer.
Ravikant Sinha, the principal chief conservator of forests, said: “We are trying to make the Sisamara beat a no-entry zone for other animals.”
Asked about the probable cause of the rhinos’ deaths, he said the forest department was yet to receive reports of tests on the samples of the carcasses. The samples had been sent to Calcutta.
Rhino Leaves Park
An adult male rhino walked out of Gorumara National Park in Jalpaiguri on Friday. It crossed NH31C and is roaming forests in the fringes of the park. A team of forest guards has been deputed to keep a watch on the animal.