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Town-raised wild buffalo back in wild

- Laokhowa new home

Jorhat, April 26: A wild buffalo was returned to the forest today, after being under human care for more than two years, since it was found abandoned near Orang National Park.

The male buffalo was shifted to Laokhowa Barasapori wildlife sanctuary near Kaziranga National Park in Nagaon district from the International Fund for Animal Welfare-Wildlife Trust of India-run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation where it was raised.

It was brought to CWRC by the forest department in December 2010, when it was just about a week old.

Significantly, the animal population, particularly rhinos, at Laokhowa Burasapori was badly hit during the peak Assam Agitation in the early 1980s. In fact, the entire rhino population at the sanctuary was wiped out during the agitation.

Today’s case is the first major conservation initiative after 1983 at the sanctuary. “The buffalo was moved from CWRC to a boma (enclosure) in Laokhowa Burasapori sanctuary to begin its acclimatisation as part of its soft release. It would be released after it gets used to the new environment,” Sashanka Barbara, a WTI official, told The Telegraph.

He said the buffalo’s journey from CWRC to Laokhowa was covered in two hours and the animal was mildly sedated to minimise stress and under the observation of IFAW-WTI veterinarians Abhijit Bhawal and Biswajit Baruah.

“We have already hand-reared and moved three hand-raised wild buffaloes, which have already been relocated from CWRC to Dibru Saikhowa wildlife sanctuary. These were released in the wild from the boma where they were acclimatised earlier,” said Rathin Barman, project adviser of the WTI.

Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the wild buffalo (Bubalus arnee) faces threats, including habitat loss, disease transmission from cattle as well as conflicts among others.

Shiv Kumar, divisional forest officer of Laokhowa, said the move would help in enhancing the resident wild buffalo population at the sanctuary, which has been ignored for long. The sanctuary has about 70 wild buffaloes.

Kaziranga National Park director N.K. Vasu said the wild buffalo has a better chance of survival at Lao-khowa than Kaziranga since the park is a high tiger density area.

The Kaziranga director is the project leader of CWRC.