Rhino population on the rise - Caught on camera

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  • Published 3.04.08

Siliguri, April 3: Good news for tourists and nature-lovers: your chances of spotting a rhino in Gorumara National Park have increased, if the preliminary findings of a recent count are to be believed.

Forest officials and members of wildlife NGOs, who conducted the count last week, have photographed around 30 rhinos in Gorumara, higher than the previous figure of 27 derived two years ago.

The increase may not be huge, but is significant given the fact that in the past two years, fighting within herds have killed a number of rhinos and forced a few others out of the national park.

“We insisted on direct sighting this time and could see more than 30 rhinos within the boundaries of the national park,” Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife-2), said today. “However, the final figure is yet to be fixed as the photographs and other information collected need to be cross-checked to avoid double counting.”

Twenty-eight teams, each comprising three-four members, traversed the park on March 27-28, trying to catch the rhinos on camera.

“After the two-day exercise, we are in the process of tallying the pictures, compiling data and completing some ancillary tasks,” the divisional forest officer said. “Soon, the final census figures would be with us, which would then be put on record.”

Once that is done, the officials will concentrate on the task of building a database for each rhino living in Gorumara.

“We plan to create the database for better monitoring of the rhinos and their habitat. Each of them could be identified separately with its picture, age, sex, nature and other relevant information included in the dossier,” Das said.

The database would also have the medical history of each rhino for more effective treatment if any one of them falls sick or gets injured.

“We can also keep a tab on their movements because rhinos often try to leave the habitat, especially after infighting,” the divisional forest officer said.