Vulnerable Indian Rhinos Successfully Moved to New Habitat

Conservationists translocate precious 3-ton cargo to protect species

Dec 30, 2010, 14:01 ET from International Rhino Foundation

ASSAM, India, Dec. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- For only the second time in India's history, two female Indian rhinos, an adult female and a juvenile, have successfully been translocated from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Manas National Park in Assam. The two females join two males that were moved to Manas in 2008. Veterinarians darted the animals with tranquilizers, then transported them 250 km in crates specially-designed to hold the 1.5 to 2 ton pachyderms. 

Pobitora boasts the highest density of rhinos in the world, with more than 90 rhinos in less than 18 square kilometers (4,450 acres) of rhino habitat. To minimize the chance of loss from disease and other disasters, the rhinos need to be spread among other parks. Translocating the rhinos will help create a viable population of this vulnerable species that has recovered from fewer than 200 animals in the early 1990s to more than 2,800 today.

"Moving a rhino is no easy task. It requires months of meticulous planning for every possible situation that might arise from capture to release," said Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Head, Eastern Himalayas Programme, WWF-India.  "It is essential that both the animals and the people involved are safe, and that the animals of right age and sex are chosen to allow the new population to thrive."

The translocations are the backbone of the ambitious Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 - a partnership among the government of Assam, the International Rhino Foundation, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Bodoland Territorial Council, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - that aims to attain a population of 3,000 wild rhinos in seven of Assam's protected areas by the year 2020.

Manas National Park, once an icon among India's many spectacular wildlife reserves, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Rhinos were once common in the park, but violent civil conflict beginning in 1989 caused massive damage to the park's infrastructure. Until recently, the last rhino seen in Manas was in 1996.

"A tremendous international collaboration has rebuilt the park's anti-poaching camps, repaired roads and bridges, and begun to repopulate Manas with rhino," said Dr. Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation. "We have hired, trained and equipped guards from the local communities, some of whom are former poachers now committed to saving wildlife."

About the International Rhino Foundation

The International Rhino Foundation is a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to the survival of the world's rhino species through conservation and research, and increasing awareness about the plight of the rhino.  To learn more about the IRF or make a direct contribution to help save Indian rhinos, visit

SOURCE International Rhino Foundation