TRAVEL NEWS: Assam, India and the Plight of the Asian Rhino

Asian rhino conference hailed as major step forward

Indian Rhino

Indian Rhino

Environmentalists on Friday hailed measures including tough anti-poaching initiatives to help boost the dwindling population of Asian rhinos agreed at an international conference in Indonesia.

Officials from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal held a two-day meeting this week on Indonesia’s western Sumatra island to discuss the plight of the animals.

Two out of three Asian rhino species — the Sumatran and Javan rhinos — are critically endangered, and the third, the greater one-horned rhino, is classified as vulnerable.

The populations have dwindled rapidly as poachers hunt the animal for its horn which is highly valued for use in traditional Chinese medicine, and the WWF says only around 3,500 rhinos remain in the wild in Asia.

At the meeting of Asian countries with rhino populations in the city of Bandar Lampung, the participants agreed to try and increase the populations of Asian rhinos by at least three percent annually by 2020.

The agreement set out steps to increase the populations, such as improving biological monitoring and management and carrying out tough anti-poaching operations.

Protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature hailed the agreement as a “major step towards Asian rhino recovery”.

For the full story, click on the News Daily article here.

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Both Good and Bad News for India’s Rhinos

India is home to more than 70 percent of the world’s greater one-horned rhinoceros population, and the latest census has revealed that the numbers of this Asian species are continuing to rise. But rhino killings are on the rise, too.

The State of Assam in the northeast region is a area of particular concern, for both its current rhino population and the rise of ecotourism, which is having mixed effects on the conservation efforts.   Today, about 3,000 rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in India’s Assam alone. Authorities stress that more visibility on the remote region’s rhino population could possibly thwart the poaching efforts, but that the tourism places more demand for resources on the dwindling forests where the

First, the good news: There is quite a bit to celebrate when it comes to the greater one-horned rhinos of India. The Times of India reports that a census completed this week showed that the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park increased by 39 rhinos in just 11 months! There has also been a rhino “baby boom”, as 135 rhino calves under the age of one year, and 276 young rhinos between one and three years of age (sub-adults) were counted in Kaziranga. The new total of 2,329 rhinos is comprised of more adult and sub-adult female rhinos than adult and sub-adult males.

According to WSJ.com, hundreds more guards — armed with automatic weapons — are headed into Kaziranga. In addition, unmanned drones will soon be deployed over the Park to assist in monitoring rhinos and other wildlife.

The Hindu reports that the rhino population in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal, has increased by 25 percent since 2011 and now holds 186 rhinos. There have been no known killings of rhinos in Jaldapara since 2009.

Meanwhile, in Manas National Park, two newborn rhinos were seen with their mothers on March 23rd and 27th. The new mothers had been translocated to Manas as part of Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020. WWF-India says that the births confirm that the rhinos are successfully adapting to their new home. So far, ten rhinos from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and eight from Kaziranga National Park have been translocated to Manas National Park under IRV 2020 — a joint initiative of WWF-India; the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam; the International Rhino Foundation; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Bodoland Territorial Council and local organizations.

And the bad news: India’s 2013 rhino death toll could be on track to exceed the number of rhinos killed in 2012.

For the full article, click here. 

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Editor’s Note: Original World offers custom cultural immersion tours to Assam, India including Ancient Tribes of the Hidden Northeast: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.  19-day tours begin in February for the Sekrenyi Festival & December for the Hornbill Festival Tour, which includes a visit to Kazaranga National Park.

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