Staff Reporter, Times of India | June 4, 2021
In good news for wildlife, three years after their translocation to Belrayan range in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), two rhinos have given birth for the first time to a calf each earlier this week. With this, the small herd of three cows and a bull, translocated from Dudhwa National Park in 2018, has increased to six rhinos.
A small success but part of a larger plan to repopulate Dudhwa with the Indian single-horned rhino that once roamed about freely in the floodplains of the Ganga. By the 1870s, the rhino had disappeared from UP’s forest.
Under the Rhino Rehabilitation Project, five rhinos were brought to Dudhwa in 1984 from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam — home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos. Another four were added from Nepal the following year.
In 2018, it was decided to translocate four rhinos to Belrayan range to give more space to this pachyderm listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list and protected under schedule-1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. According to the 2020 census, Dudhwa now has a total of 42 one-horned species.
But the number at Belrayan did not increase.
In 2021, a cow, Himangini, gave birth to a calf but it died within a month due to natural reasons. This time, Dudhwa foresters are being extra careful. “Tigers are a threat to rhino calves but fortunately, there are not many tigers in the Belrayan range and it is a wide area. We are monitoring the movement of the rhinos and patrolling has also been increased to reduce any threat from outsiders,” said field director Sanjay Pathak.
The enclosure for rhinos in the Belrayan range spans 14 square kilometres and multiple teams are monitoring the movement of the rhinos and providing day-to-day information about them to senior officials.
Pathak told TOI, “Presently, we have 38 adult and four sub-adult rhinos in the reserve. The new rhino calves will be included in the total census after they complete one year. All our staff are very happy with the increase in the members of the rhino family under the Rhino Rehabilitation phase two. Their hard work in ensuring a favorable environment for rhinos has paid off. There is no threat of poachers.”
Rhinos play an important role in the ecosystem as they are the umbrella species and their absence directly impacts the survival of other mammals, fish, insects and birds. When they run, they flatten the grasslands, making it easier for smaller mammals to walk. The possibility of forest fire decreases drastically in the area where rhinos stay. They also help in pollination of seeds through their dung and enrich the soil as well.