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International aid for wildlife centre

Kaziranga, March 6: The International Fund for Animal Welfare is coming forward to transform the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) at Borjuri near Kaziranga National Park into a centre of excellence and also offering to fund any project that will help reduce man-animal conflict.

Fred O’ Regan, the president and chief executive officer of IFWA, which runs the centre, told The Telegraph that the CWRC has been doing a commendable job since its inception in 2002.

It was time to develop the institute into a centre of excellence, for which huge funds would be made available.

“The CWRC will be developed in such a way that it becomes an example for the world as far as wildlife conservation efforts are concerned. There would be facilities made available at the centre where more animals can be attended to,” O’ Regan said in an exclusive interview at the centre.

The centre, which will complete 10 years in August, was set up with the primary aim of stabilising displaced wild animals, provide medical treatment if necessary and release them back into the wild.

It has four satellite branches at Manas, Dibru-Saikhowa and Karbi Anglong and Arunachal Pradesh, and has handled nearly 1,500 cases till today and these animals include rhinos, black bears, Royal Bengal tigers, leopards, hoolock gibbon and elephants, among others. The centre has a “healthy” success rate in the release of animals back to the wild.

At present, the centre is attending to seven elephants, seven rhinos, three leopards, a Royal Bengal tiger, one buffalo, one hoolock gibbon, one rhesus macaque, three jungle cats and two storks.

The animal welfare fund was founded in 1969 and has projects in more than 40 countries across the world.

Vivek Menon, IFAW’s regional director (South Asia), said only recently the two elephants which were hand-raised at the centre and subsequently released at Manas National Park, were spotted with wild herds.

“These calves have mingled with wild herds and that is very good news for the centre,” he said.

O’ Regan said the centre at Borjuri is the largest and the best such centres run by an IFAW in the world as far as the success of releasing hand-raised animals back in the wild is concerned.

The American, who is on his first visit to the centre, said the IFAW was also contemplating pumping in funds to relocate and rehabilitate human population in the vicinity of wildlife habitats in Assam.

“There has been an increase in incidents of man-animal conflict, especially near the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Assam. And unless the people residing near these sanctuaries are shifted to other locations, such a situation would continue. The IFAW is ready to fund such projects, which would help reduce man-animal conflict,” he said.