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Jumbo sighting boost for Manas

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 12.06.11
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Jorhat/Kokrajhar, June 11: Conservation efforts at Manas National Park received a shot in the arm a couple of days back when a rehabilitated elephant was sighted roaming with a wild herd.

“We sighted him with a wild herd, comprising about 24 elephants, a couple of days back. We could not get near him as other members of the herd charged at us,” a Wildlife Trust of India official said.

The elephant, named Hamren, was among the five hand-raised calves relocated to Manas in January this year as part of the Elephant Reintegration Project — a joint venture of the Assam forest department and International Fund for Animal Welfare- Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI), supported by the Bodoland Territorial Council. The calf had been admitted to the IFAW-WTI-run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga in a severely injured and weak condition in May 2008 and carefully nursed back to full health.

IFAW-WTI is also among the frontrunners advocating restoration of the World Heritage Site status of Manas.

Elephant reintegration is one of the numerous projects being implemented by the Assam forest department with assistance from IFAW-WTI as part of the “Bringing back Manas” initiative.

In 2006, under this initiative, rhinos were reintroduced in Manas for the first time since it lost its entire population to poaching during the peak Bodo movement.

IFAW-WTI has been implementing the rehabilitation and release of orphaned clouded leopard and Asiatic black bear cubs in the national park. Manas, included in the World Heritage Site list in 1985 at the 9th annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee, witnessed massive destruction during the Bodo movement.

As a result, it was listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 1992. Since then, it has been retained in the list in every annual meeting of the committee.

Various conservationists and organisations advocating protection of Manas’ World Heritage Site status termed the development a big boost for the park.

“Things have changed now and there is an unwavering commitment to conservation and protection. Manas deserves to have its title restored, along with its animals. This is what IFAW and WTI will try and convince the committee during the upcoming annual meet that is being held in Paris next month,” Azzedine Downes, executive vice-president, IFAW, said.

Deputy chief of BTC, Kampa Borgoyari, who looks after the forest and tourism department, said, “Conservation of wildlife, particularly in greater Manas, is one of the main priorities of the people of Bodoland. We take pride in our natural heritage and will continue to work to secure it. It is unfortunate that Manas was listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger. Now it is time for the committee to change this.”

Vivek Menon, regional director, South Asia, IFAW, and executive director, WTI, said, “Hamren’s story is just one of the reasons why Manas must be removed from the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. There are so many other stories of so many species of animals, including clouded leopards, rhinos and even a tiger, which have found a home here.”

“The population of a number of major species in Manas has seen a comeback ,” said C.R. Bhobora, the deputy director of the park.