| Callum Thomas Frazer (centre) takes an elephant ride at Kaziranga. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Feb. 7: A special attachment to rhinos has brought teenager Callum Thomas Frazer all the way from Manchester in UK to Kaziranga National Park to study these “beautiful animals” and how to help protect them.
Callum, 18, is currently at the Centre for Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park and trying to learn more about one-horned rhinos.
“It is tragic to learn of the rampant killing of rhinos and I have decided to travel to Kaziranga, considered to be the home of one-horned rhinos,” Callum told The Telegraph over phone today.
At present, the centre has six female rhino calves, which are being hand-raised.
Assam has witnessed the deaths of more than 20 rhinos last year.
This year, nine rhinos have fallen prey to poachers, of which seven belonged to Kaziranga National Park.
Callum said he got attached to Indian rhinos following his three-month tenure at Chester Zoo in the UK soon after he completed school at Knutsford High School in Cheshire, England, last year.
Chester Zoo, which houses more than 400 species of animals and birds, also houses two Indian rhinos — Penny the male and Asha the female.
“I got totally attached to these two rhinos and when I heard about the rhino killings at Kaziranga, I decided to travel to Assam,” he said.
Callum said he has a special fascination for rhinos and had travelled to South Africa last year where poachers killed more than 400 of the species.
The teenager said it had not been difficult for him to convince his parents to travel to India, as his parents were “well travelled” and have gone to various parts of the world.
“My parents are aware of my fascination for rhinos and did not object much to my travel to Kaziranga National Park and here I am.”
Callum got in touch with an official at the Geological Survey of India in Calcutta through a family connection.
“This particular official directed me to Uttam Saikia, a member of an NGO near Kaziranga, who is helping me during my stay here,” he said.
Callum arrived last Sunday and will be staying at Kaziranga for two weeks.
During his stay, he will work with the animal keepers at the CWRC to learn more about rhinos.
“I will also visit the national park and mingle with wildlife activists and forest officials and try to help protecting these animals,” he said.
Callum said he would travel back to the UK and try to create awareness on the need to protect rhinos.
“Creating international awareness to save rhinos would help to fight against poachers who have international links, I think,” he said.
Uttam Saikia, the president of Bhumi, an NGO, said Callum has a fascination for rhinos and this could be seen in the way he mingled with the calves at the centre. “He simply adores the rhinos,” Saikia said.