MANAS, India, April 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A healthy, female calf has been born in Manas National Park, to a rhinoceros hand-raised by IFAW-WTI as an orphan and moved to the park as part of a species reintroduction.
"This is the first calf born in the wild in India from a rhino that had been hand-raised, rehabilitated and released to the wild," said Azzedine Downes, president and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
"The poaching of wild rhinos is at an all-time high and this birth gives great hope to the team confronting the crisis."
The Rhino Rehabilitation Project is a pioneering joint venture of the Assam Forest Department, IFAW– Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), and Bodoland Territorial Council to hand-raise orphaned or displaced calves to release them in the wild. To date, five hand-raised rhino calves, three females and two males, have been moved to Manas.
The new mother, named Ganga by her rehabilitators, was rescued as a three-month-old calf during the annual floods in the famed Kaziranga National Park in June 2004. She was admitted to the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga, and in 2007, she along with another female calf was moved to Manas National Park.
"Ganga was one of the first rhinos to reach Manas as part of the reintroduction. This birth marks yet another crucial milestone in our efforts to bring Manas back to its former glory," said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, Regional Head, IFAW-WTI.
Manas had lost all its rhinos by the 1990s as the area reeled under severe civil conflict. It was also declared a World Heritage Site in danger. A number of initiatives including the rhino reintroduction have been implemented here since peace was largely restored in early 2000s. In 2011, the 'in danger' tag was lifted by UNESCO.
Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI, and Regional Director – South Asia, IFAW, said, "This is a very special moment for all of us. The situation of rhinos across the world has been depressing, with so many poached for their horns in the past year. In this seemingly-bleak scenario, the instances like this birth are what keep us optimistic and spirited to do more."
IFAW's support for wildlife rehabilitation in South Africa has ensured that at least two rhino rehabilitated and then released into the wild have successfully bred on reserves in the region.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare