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Tiger reserve address for surplus zoo rhinos

- Horned animal to be shifted for creating a habitat in West Champaran

Authorities are mulling to reintroduce black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) from Patna zoo to Valmiki Tiger Reserve after successful reintroduction of ghariyals in Gandak at the reserve earlier this year.

The lone tiger reserve that boasts of 22 big cats does not have a single rhino at present. Whereas, Patna zoo has the highest number of rhinos in the country mainly because of sudden surge in their breeding. A female rhino calf was born at the zoo on September 6 and another on September 16 last year. At present, there are 14 rhinos — six males and eight females — at the zoo. The number of rhinos in excess of the optimum population at the zoo would be shifted to VTR.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global apex body working for wildlife conservation, black rhino is listed as “critically endangered” because its population has declined by an estimated 97.6 per cent since 1960 with numbers standing at 2,410 in 1995, mainly a result of poaching.

In India, rhinos have been kept in schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It is perhaps to augment the conservation of this endangered species that efforts are being taken to relocate their surplus from Patna zoo to VTR.

“Since we don’t have even a single rhino here and Patna zoo has a surplus, steps are being taken for their reintroduction at the VTR. A team of Wildlife Institute of India in this regard has done a study two months ago and it has stated that VTR has favourable habitat for rhinos and the reintroduction is feasible. A workshop in this regard involving forest department, Patna zoo and VTR, was held in Patna earlier this year,” said VTR director Santosh Tiwari.

VTR’s divisional forest officer (division-II) Nand Kishor said according to initial assessment, the Madanpur range has been selected for reintroducing the rhinos.

“According to conservation practices, around five to 10 rhinos are required for sustaining their long-term growth at a place. However, a decision regarding the number of individuals to be reintroduced here would be taken by higher authorities in due course of time. We would have to do fencing of the identified area, some mounds and roads would also have to be developed to create favourable habitat,” Kishor said.

The VTR had a tryst with rhinos in 2001-02 when two females and a male had strayed into it from Nepal.


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