The Telegraph
Thursday , January 16 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Meet to gauge rhino transfer

Guwahati, Jan. 15: Partners of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme will meet with the Assam forest department on January 30 to review the progress of rhino translocation in the state.

The meeting assumes importance against the backdrop of the killing of seven translocated rhinos in Manas since 2011. “The meeting will review the progress of the project and discuss all issues,” Assam chief wildlife warden R.P. Agarwalla told The Telegraph.

Forest minister Rakibul Hussain is scheduled to chair the meeting. Susie Ellis, the executive director of International Rhino Foundation, will attend the meeting along with officials of WWF and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The goal of the project, partnered by the Assam forest department, Bodoland Territorial Council, WWF, International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is to attain a population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos over seven protected areas in Assam by 2020.

A source said the partners were happy with the efforts of the government in providing support for the project but they were not satisfied with the progress in the investigation of rhino poaching in Manas.

“Our duty was to translocate the rhinos. The duty of providing security for them lies with the state,” he said.

The meeting comes at a time when the government was going ahead with rhino translocation in Laokhowa-Burhachapori wildlife sanctuary complex and the partners are likely to ask how the security concerns are being addressed. There is also concern about the delay in rescuing the nine-month-old calf, which lost its mother in Manas on December 31 last year.

“There has been no remarkable improvement in the security in Manas prompting one of the partners to withdraw its staff,” the source said. He added that all partners have promised continued support. The National Tiger Conservation Authority had said the poaching in Manas extends far beyond the site.

“A time will come when questions will be raised on why we are funding the programme when rhinos are dying,” a source in a partner organisation said.

The First Asian Rhino Range States meeting in Indonesia in October last year had stated that initiatives like the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 were being threatened by the increasing demand for rhino horn.