| One-horned rhino |
Jorhat, March 19: Kaziranga authorities are expecting to record a rise in rhino population during the three-day census that starts on Saturday despite the recent spurt in poaching of the endangered mammal in and around the national park.
The park, said to be the one-horned rhino’s abode, had 2,290 rhinos according to the last (2012) census against a population of 2,048 in 2009.
“Going by the trend of increase in the rhino population in the past few censuses, we expect a growth,” an official of the national park told this correspondent today.
The park has already witnessed the killing of nine rhinos this year by poachers while at least five have died of natural causes. The official said there have been, however, several births recently which was a positive sign.
He said for the first time, forest officials from other parts of Assam will be engaged in carrying out the census this year. “Apart from forest officials, members of various NGOs and the media will also help out,” he added.
The park has been divided into 70 compartments for the census — 36 on the south bank of the Diphlu river, which divides the core area of the park into two halves, and 34 on its north bank.
“The census will be carried out on the south bank of Diphlu on the second day and on its north bank on the last day,” the official said. The census personnel will be briefed on the first day.
Another Kaziranga official said an increase in the rhino population would help improve the park’s image, which had received a blow in the face of rampant poaching. “Kaziranga has been a successful conservation story as far as rhinos are concerned and this was possible because of the efforts put in by a dedicated forest staff. If the park records an increase in rhino population it will help brush away the negative image created by the recent killings.”
He said a few incidents of poaching would in no way hamper conservation efforts at Kaziranga and the park would continue to witness a rise in rhino population.
“The size of the park has also doubled over the years following addition of new areas. Hence, it has become difficult to guard every nook and corner all the time, creating room for stray incidents of poaching,” he added.