ASSAM, India, Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An elephant calf injured in a village, a rhino orphaned by poachers, a full-grown tiger discovered in a well and a leopard found in a house! These are four of 1,600 animals and 150 species saved in the last ten years at IFAW's Wildlife Rescue Center in northeast, India.
Situated near Kaziranga National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northeast Indian state of Assam, the center was opened in 2002 by IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in partnership with the Assam Forest Department and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Since then it has also pioneered hand-raising and rehabilitation of numerous species of wild animals including clouded leopards, rhinos, elephants, bears and birds like the greater adjutant storks and India's only apes -the Hoolock gibbons.
"The IFAW Wildlife Rescue Center has achieved pioneering work in the rehabilitation of endangered wildlife, including a number of notable firsts – the first orphan Asian elephants returned to the wild and the first documented release of hand-reared clouded leopards," said Ian Robinson, IFAW Animal Rescue Director. "The center staff have much to be proud of."
"The center rescues wild animals in distress, be it due to natural causes such as floods, or even man-made causes including conflicts. Assam has set numerous exemplary wildlife conservation and welfare milestones for the entire country to follow, and this center is one of those – our pride," said Suresh Chand, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam Forest Department.
Combining animal welfare ethics to wildlife conservation, the center has worked for more than just saving individual animals in distress. Significant achievements include the reintroduction of rhinos to Manas National Park – another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Assam that had lost its entire rhino population to poachers. The orphaned rhino calves were hand-raised and then moved to the wild in Manas, kick starting the crucial rhino reintroduction program in 2006. Likewise, displaced elephant calves, orphaned clouded leopards and Asiatic black bear cubs have been hand-raised and released into the wild in Manas.
"Commitment is what makes our center different. Only within a decade, it has grown to what it is now, despite its share of difficulties or even life-threatening situations faced by people on field," says Vivek Menon, WTI Executive Director.
The center has also provided opportunities to aspiring wildlife veterinarians from India and abroad to hone their skills in wild animal welfare and treatment. A number of veterinarians have been trained, working as volunteers, interns and staff members.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals 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. IFAW and WTI formed a partnership in 2000 to strengthen the cause of wildlife conservation and animal welfare in India and the surrounding region. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos, are available for media use at www.ifawimages.com
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare