Indian Rhino Vision 2020
To promote the survival of Indian rhinos in India
The conservation of Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Assam and India has been a great success
in Kaziranga National Park. Through strict protection, the declining population of
10–20 rhinos in 1905 has recovered to more than 1800 individuals in
2007. However, more than 86 percent of India’s rhinos live in just one national park, Kaziranga. Only few other national parks, such as Orang
and Pobitora, carry valuable populations of Indian rhinos. The risk to
loose rhinos to disease, poaching and other problems (e.g. habitat
destruction, traffic) has grown with the increase of human populations around the national parks and the always growing demand for rhino horns.
IRV 2020 aims to increase the rhino populations in Assam to 3000 by the year 2020. These rhino populations will be built up at the seven protected areas to provide long-term viability to the rhino metapopulation in Assam. The IRV 2020 project will further improve the security of all rhinos in Assam by implementing law enforcement measures, by expanding the distribution of rhinos to reduce risks like disease, inbreeding depression and mass mortality, and by improving the security system for those protected areas where Indian rhinos already live.
The project also aims to reduce the rhino population pressures in any single habitat by ensuring a better distribution of the rhino population over suitable ranges. In addition, the project concentrates on integrating the local communities into the conservation effort. It aims to provide jobs for people living around the national parks (in conservation or tourism), to help to protect crops from being raided and to implement further educational methods.
Orang National Park (NP) is a small national park (around 72 km²), located on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra, to the west of Kaziranga NP. The rhino population currently ranges around 68 Indian rhinos. This is the third largest population of Indian Rhinos in India. Tiger and other rare species live in this national park as well. Orang NP is directly surrounded by communities to the north, west and east. In the past, there have been insufficient infrastructure and security systems, which led to high poaching activities (between 1995 and 2000, 64 rhinos were poached). The rangers did not have the means to go on daily patrols, neither during the dry nor during the rainy season.
located in a very beautiful natural setting, Orang NP has the
potential to become a very attractive tourist site and to raise an
income through ecotourism. However, this field has never been developed because of the proximity of the well-known Kaziranga NP. Within IRV 2020, Orang NP has received special attention as the population of rhinos
live in a very good area but need strong protection. Orang NP is
one of the seven national parks in Assam that help to carry a sustainable Indian
rhino population in the near future and, through its location, also
carries the potential to become a corridor area between Kaziranga and
the northern part of Assam in the future.
The main threats for wildlife within Orang NP are currently:
- Shortage of manpower
- Open river fronts
- Lack of infrastructure
- Lack of community participation
In the last year, the following issues were discussed and started:
- The motivation of the field staff was strengthened by improving the housing facilities, by providing basic field kits and by arranging annual medical camps for the staff and their families.
- More scouts were employed and replaced those who were sick and could no longer go on duty. Each scout received a special training on foot but also along the river side and within boats for the rainy season.
- More camps were build which allow for a better control. In addition the roads were cleared properly, wireless communication was optimized, a 4x4 vehicle as well as motorcycles and bicycles were purchased.
- The communities were approached and several awareness campaigns raised.
Basel Zoo has assumed the sponsorship of Orang NP on a long-term base to ensure the protection of Indian rhinos and to assist in the development of Orang NP for the future.
WAZA Conservation Project 08008 is implemented by WWF India, the Government of Assam and IRF (International Rhino Foundation), with support provided by Basel Zoo; IRV 2020 is supported by IRF, USFWS, CERZA and the EAZA Rhino Campaign.
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