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Wild truth spurs rhino exchange plea

Jalpaiguri, July 4: The state forest department has requested the Assam government to send 20 female rhinos in exchange for the same number of males to rectify the skewed sex ratio of the animal in Gorumara National Park.

The foresters say the ideal sex ratio of the rhino is 3:1 or three females for each male. But the ratio is almost reverse in Gorumara, leading to infightings among the male rhinos.

“In case they accept our proposal, we are ready to send 20 male rhinos from Gorumara to Assam to strike a balance in the sex ratio of the species. Over the past few years, the rhino population in Gorumara and Jaldapara is showing trends of increase. But the key problem is the death of rhinos because of infighting as the number of females is less than males in the park,” said forest minister Hiten Barman.

Three females for one male is considered the ideal sex ratio for the rhino.

“However, as the ratio is reverse in Gorumara, infighting among the males is quite frequent. There have been incidents where females have been attacked and males have walked out of the park after losing fights to their contenders,” said a senior forester.

Vipan Sood, the conservator of forests (wildlife), north Bengal, has said Gorumara has 37 rhinos.

The foresters said many rhinos had died in clashes in recent years.

Around two years ago, a calf was killed by an adult male in the park. Last month, the carcass of a female rhino was found on the dry bed of the Jaldhaka. The female was killed by a male rhino.

Two male rhinos had left Gorumara after losing a fight a year ago and they are in Baikunthapur forest now.

The foresters said in 2009, two male rhinos had started walking towards Bhutan after losing a fight in Gorumara. The animals were brought back to the park by the foresters.

“The problem (of a skewed sex ratio), however, is not there in Jaldapara wildlife sanctuary where we have a substantial rhino population and the male-female ratio is up to the mark,” the minister said.

The sanctuary has 150-odd rhinos.

Barman said the letter seeking 20 female rhinos from Assam has been sent last week. “As the state (Assam) has the largest rhino population in India, we expect a positive reply from their end because our aim is to resolve the problem related to sex ratio, which in the long run, would help in conservation of the animal,” he said.

The minister added that offspring from cross breeding are likely to be stronger.

“Because of cross breeding among different gene pools the offspring population would be strong in physique, agility and strength,” he said.

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