A one-horned rhino recently gave birth to two calves in the Gorumara National Park which is one of the two forests in Bengal where the species is found.
Also at the Gorumara park in Jalpaiguri district, a pet elephant of the Bengal forest department delivered a calf recently.
Forest guards are regularly monitoring the movement of the rhino calves along with the mother in the wild. Mahouts and “patawalas (assistants)” are taking care of the pet elephant and the calf in an enclosure.
Dwija Pratim Sen, the Gorumara divisional forest officer, said the rhino calves had been spotted by the guards patrolling the core areas of the park. “The guards found the rhino calves in the Gorumara south range forest. That the rhino population in the park is on the rise is definitely good news for us,” said Sen.
In Gorumara, the skewing sex ratio of the rhino had always been a cause of concern for foresters. The ideal sex ratio is 1: 2 (male: female).
“Because of less number of females, there had been incidents of infighting among males, which had even led to deaths. It is good that the rhino population is on the rise as it can help in balancing the skewing sex ratio,” said a wildlife expert.
Sources in the forest department said the population of the one-horned rhino was 55 in Gorumara in 2019 when the census had been conducted for the last time.
The one-horned rhino is found in the Jaldapara National Park in the neighbouring Alipurduar district also.
Sen said Teesta, a pet elephant that was usually engaged by the forest department for patrolling, had given birth to a calf a couple of weeks back.
“Teesta has been put on rest and is not engaged in work nowadays. The calf is being provided with necessary care,” the forester added.
Teesta, the pet elephant, with its calf in an enclosure in the Gorumara National Park. Picture courtesy: The Bengal forest department
The forests are closed for visitors for a period of three months from June 15 as the monsoon is known to be the mating season of wildlife species.
“Once the forests open on September 16, we believe tourists can catch a glimpse of the rhino calves. The sex determination of the calves is yet to be carried out,” said a forester.
Jumbos damage houses
A herd of six elephants strayed out of Totapara forest and damaged six houses at Chanadipa in Banarhat block of Jalpaiguri district on Thursday night.
The herd also damaged jute plants cultivated in the area.
Local people gathered and managed to drive the animals back to the forest. They have demanded compensation from the forest department.