93 rhinos now in Pobitora

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  • Published 21.03.12

Guwahati, March 20: The Pobitora forest authorities will request the state government to conduct research to help them know how many rhinos Pobitora wildlife sanctuary can accommodate without overcrowding.

Spread across an area of 38.8 square km the rhino habitat, however, is confined to a mere 16 square km area of the sanctuary.

The decision was taken by the authorities on the day population estimation of the rhino was conducted in the sanctuary.

The five-and-a-half-hour exercise today recorded 93 rhinos. Previously, the sanctuary had 101 rhinos, up by 17 from 84 rhinos during the 2009 evaluation. Thereafter, eight rhinos were translocated to to Manas National Park, according to ranger Mukul Tamuly.

Compared to the other rhino-breeding areas in the state, Pobitora is said to have the highest density of rhinos. No research, however, has been conducted to find out the ideal space required by the rhinos.

“All the 93 rhinos have been found to be healthy. I think additional 20 rhinos can be accommodated in the sanctuary. It is essential for us to know what the saturation limit of Pobitora is. We will ask the state government to carry out the research,” Tamuly said. .

For today’s exercise, the sanctuary was divided into 12 zones — seven within the rhino habitat and five in the remaining area. The Tamulidova block, one amongst the seven zones within the 16 square km, recorded 30 rhinos, the highest amongst all.

After Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, this was the second stop where population estimation of rhino was done. The next venue is Kaziranga National Park, where the estimation will be carried out for two days on March 26 and 27.

According to authorities of the sanctuary, around 80 people, including officials of the forest department and WWF India along with members of NGOs working for environment, took part to evaluate the rhino numbers. To expand the rhino habitat area in the sanctuary, Tamuly said they were exploring various avenues.

“There are certain strategies on hand, which we are trying to work upon and make the habitat richer,” he said.

Two rhino poaching incidents occurred last year after six years for which security had been further tightened, Tamuly said.