Wildlife & Biodiversity

Rhinos to be reintroduced to Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve

The Uttarakhand Wildlife Board has decided to do so in three months time

 
Last Updated: Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Great Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros may be reintroduced in the Corbett Tiger Reserve soon. According to media reports, a decision to reintroduce the rhino in the tiger reserve was taken at a meeting of the Uttarakhand Wildlife Board, which was chaired by the state chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. The state wildlife department has set a deadline of three months for this reintroduction.

The state government hopes reintroducing the animal will increase the biodiversity of the tiger reserve, which also other big herbivore species such as elephants and sambhar deer. Wildlife studies done in this area have indicated that the one-horned rhino was once an endemic species in the area. A study done by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2007 says that a male rhino was spotted near Kotdwar in 1789. It is believed that rhinos were found in the Shivalik foothills area around the tiger reserve till the end of the 19th century.

The WII study had looked at the possible rhino reintroduction sites in Corbett. It had recommended three sites: Dhikala and Paterpani grasslands within the tiger reserve and Surai grasslands in the Terai East Forest Division. Of these three, it identified Dhikala as the best site, given its size, location and protection status. The WII study said that Dhikala can potentially support a maximum of 15 rhinos. 

Similar efforts of rhino translocation have taken place at Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh in the early 1980s when eight animals were transferred. Now, it boasts a population of about 20 rhinos. Rhinos have also been relocated to Jaldapara in West Bengal.

The Indian rhino was almost pushed to extinction in the beginning of the 20th century when about 300 animals remained in the wild. Because of conservation efforts, there are about 3,500 rhinos in the wild today. Most of this population is concentrated in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, while the Chitwan National Park also has a sizable population.

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