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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-III :
  • 20 December, 2019

  • Min Read

Rhinos to be re-introduced in Uttarakhand

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims and Mains focus: About the relocation plan; About Indian rhinos and threat to their survival; WII

News: The Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has cleared a proposal by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to introduce rhinoceroses in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) to boost tourism and revive the habitats of species that survive on low-height grass.

Process

According to officials, around 10 rhinos will be brought in CTR in the first phase and subsequently, 10 more would be added. A proposal will be sent to the Centre soon in this regard to transport rhinos from either Assam or West Bengal or both. The capture and translocation are likely to cost about Rs 15 lakh per individual animal.

Challenge ahead

  • Experts claim that protecting these rhinos from poaching will be the only challenge for the state’s forest department staff after the move.

Why CTR was found suitable for relocation

  • The geographical terrain and environmental conditions in CTR are suitable for rhinos.
  • The ideal sites chosen in Corbett are valley habitats bounded on either side by the lower Himalayas (north), Shivalik Hills (south) and the Ramganga Reservoir (east), which would also act as natural barriers to rhino movement outside these area, thereby minimising conflict with people.
  • Rhinos were once found in the Terai grassland in the state and adjoining areas but were wiped out by poaching. The horn of a rhino is believed to be an aphrodisiac. Corbett is well protected and hence the rhinos will safely survive there.
  • Experts say that each of the founding population animals would be fitted with a GPS radio-collar. A team of researchers would be allocated for monitoring their ranging patterns, foraging habits, demography and habitat use. The Forest Department would be responsible for the safety of these re-introduced rhinos. Researchers will share data with the department’s staff.
  • There are less challenges in re-introduction of rhinos. The animals only have to be brought here. Food and water are available.
  • According to wildlife experts, rhinos reduce the size of elephant grass by eating it. This would mean that species that thrive on lower-height grass — Hog Deer, Cheetal, Sambar and Swamp Deer, among others — would also be encouraged.

Significance of the move

  • The rhino’s range was once continuous across the flood plains of the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra, but today, it is limited to small fragmented pockets in India and Nepal as a result of anthropogenic pressures.
  • Re-introduction into habitats in its historic range would not only create safety-net populations for the species but also restore their ecological role in these faunally-degraded habitats.
  • The majority of the decline in rhino population in the state of Assam occurred during the period of political unrest. Similar trends in population decline were observed in Nepal during the Maoist movement. Uttarakhand has no such history of political instability and thus would be an ideal site for reintroduction.

About Wildlife Institute of India

  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training program, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management.
  • WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
  • It was established in 1982.
  • It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India.
  • The institute is based in Dehradun.

Source: Indian Express


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