Rhinos to be re-introduced in Uttarakhand

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    26th Dec, 2019

Context

  • The Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has cleared a proposal by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to introduce rhinoceroses in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) to boost tourism and revive the habits of species that survive on low-height grass.

About

  • According to officials, around 10 rhinos will be brought in CTR in the first phase and subsequently, 10 more would be added. 
  • Experts claim that protecting these rhinos from poaching will be the only challenge for the state’s forest department staff after the move.
  • The geographical terrain and environmental conditions in CTR are suitable for rhinos.
  • The ideal sites chosen in Corbett are valley habitats bounded on either side by the lower Himalayas (north), Shivalik Hills (south) and the Ramganga Reservoir (east), which would also act as natural barriers to rhino movement outside these area, thereby minimising conflict with people.

Benefits from this move-

  • According to wildlife experts, rhinos reduce the size of elephant grass by eating it.
  • This would mean that species that thrive on lower-height grass — Hog Deer, Cheetal, Sambar and Swamp Deer, among others — would also be encouraged.
  • According to WII experts, the rhino’s range was once continuous across the flood plains of the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra, but today, it is limited to small fragmented pockets in India and Nepal as a result of anthropogenic pressures.
  • Re-introduction into habitats in its historic range would not only create safety-net populations for the species but also restore their ecological role in these faunally-degraded habitats.

About One-horn Rhino-

  • The Indian rhinoceros also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and great Indian rhinoceros, is a rhinocerosspecies native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is listed as Vulnerableon the IUCN Red List.
  • The Indian rhinoceros once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, but excessive hunting and agricultural development reduced its range drastically to 11 sites in northern Indiaand southern Nepal.
  • It inhabits the alluvialgrasslands of the Terai and the Brahmaputra basin.
  • The Indian rhinoceros is regionally extinct in Pakistan.
  • There are about 2,600 rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. Outside Kaziranga, rhinos are found in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, holds about 70% of the world population. This is worrisome for two reasons – the park may have reached its carrying capacity and might not be able to support any more rhinos; and the entire species’ population could decimated because by a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or another acute threat.

About Jim Corbett National Park-

  • It is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger.
  • It is located in Nainital district and Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett, a well known hunter and naturalist.
  • The park was the first to come under the Project Tigerinitiative in 1973.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020-

  • It is an ambitious effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.
  • IRF has partnered with the Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the US Fish & Wildlife Service to address the threats facing Indian rhinos. 
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