Guwahati, Sept. 21: WWF-India has urged the ministry of environment and forests to chalk out a National Rhino Conservation Plan for better protection of rhinos in the country.
“The adoption of such a plan will increase coordination between the four rhino-bearing states of India and enable sharing of best practices and information on poaching syndicates for better protection of India’s rhinos,” director, species and landscapes, WWF-India, Dipankar Ghose said today in New Delhi.
Tomorrow is World Rhino Day. According to International Rhino Foundation, “Five rhino species forever” is the motto of the day.
It says all five rhino species are threatened to some degree or the other. The Javan variety, which is “critically endangered”, has probably no more than 44 rhinos in the wild. Sumatran rhino has not more than 100 individuals, greater one-horned rhino has more than 3,300 individuals in the wild and the number of black rhino is just over 5,000. White rhino has at least 20,400 individuals in the wild.
The conservation agency said though the country and the rest of the world celebrate rhino conservation successes, rampant poaching is a grim reminder of the challenges facing protection of rhinos in the country.
“The increasing use of lethal and sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 rifles in poaching points to an easy access to such deadly weapons for poaching syndicates active in the recent killings,” Ghose said.
After decades of conservation success — which resulted in the population of rhinos in Assam rising to more than 2,500 currently — an increase in number of poachings over the last couple of years seems to indicate that poaching syndicates are growing stronger.
The agency said to avoid loss of these hard-fought gains, there is an urgent need for adoption of a National Rhino Conservation Plan for India. It has also urged the environment and forest minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, to bring together the four rhino-bearing states of India — Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
WWF-India is ready to facilitate this process.
In Assam, awareness programmes and plays are being organised for schools and local communities around Pobitora wildlife sanctuary and Manas National Park in association with its partners.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has also asked India to chalk out a national strategy to look after conservation efforts in its rhino habitats. Countries such as Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia have already developed their national rhino conservation strategies.