If anybody knows Assam in India, it’s all because of Rhinos residing at Kaziranga National Park and other neighboring sanctuaries. The land of unending tea estates, Bihu- the cultural folk dance and silk sarees, Assam is a state that reflects the true east-Indian charisma along with its natural beauty localizing everywhere specifically at its great sanctuaries. Being fertile and flourished with the mighty Brahmaputra, the river; that also sometimes causes massive destruction during monsoons, the sanctuaries like Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri and Rajiv Gandhi National Park prove to be the true producer of re-generation and resettling of life. All credit goes to the locals and the forest officials of the area that the rehabilitation efforts bring effective colors to the area keeping in the mind about the natural conservation.
Every year, the state witness massive downpours all around the region, bringing great natural and economical losses; but cheers to the high-spirited lives of the Assamese (including the innocent rhinos) that they re-establish their normal life back. One such incidence of Manas National Park has really opened everyone’s mouth in surprise and pleasure; when a three month old calf called Ganga was being rescued during the annual floods in Kaziranga in 14th July, 2004 by the forest department. She was severely injured, dehydrated and traumatized and lost her mother too. But the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation’s (CWRC) veterinarian took active actions in rescuing her and bringing her the best possible treatments by shifting her to CWRC near Kaziranga for hand-raising and rehabilitation. While she was admitted, she had severe respiratory problems and muscular fatigue and was kept under intensive care at the CWRC and was successfully treated.
More impressively, Ganga was also being accompanied by Yamuna, another victim of the flood drenched area where both the calves were brought up together and spent around 2 and half years in the center.
Successfully, on 28th Jan 2007 both Ganga and Yamuna were then relocated to Manas National Park, the park which is being recognized under Project Tiger, for the next phase of rehabilitation called the ‘soft release’. And for the very first time in the history of Indian wildlife, Ganga gave birth to a little female calf in the wild. The little calf was being christened Dharti that means the earth- to bring tribute to the ecosystem.
The birth of Dharti marked a great milestone in the Rhino Rehabilitation Project, a joint venture of the Assam Forest Department and International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI). The organizations are raising funds for the orphaned or displaced calves to rehabilitate them in the wild. The birth has brought great enthralling win over situation for the organization, locals and for the entire nation, after the poor incidences of poaching of rhinos at greater scales for their horns. This is incredibly a great achievement amidst such a bleak situation to bring the concept of ecological conservation in a true evident form.
Ganga was among the first rhinos to be shifted to Manas after recovering from the traumatized situation. Ganga, and now Dharti, both being a part of the rhino reintroduction program in Manas National Park, kick started in 2006, brought the move of the first hand-raised calf from CWRC.
Manas National Park once lost all its rhinos till the year 1990s, bringing the area reeling under severe civil conflict. Unfortunately, this world heritage site was declared in danger. Afterwards, many initiatives were implemented to restore the natural position including the Rhino reintroduction in the early 2000s. And pleasingly, the tag of ‘in danger’ was then lifted by UNESCO in the year 2011. It was Ganga, the rhino, who was first introduced to Manas National Park under the reintroduction program and then the birth of Dharti really made a blissful and rewarding achievement for the nation.
The credit of such efforts all goes to the frontline staff (who saved it from drowning), the entire team of the veterinarians, animal keepers and the biologists, for successfully treating her, regaling her and then finally releasing her to the Manas National Park.
By facing such great difficulties and obstructions, the attempts of wildlife conservation is truly appreciating and we hope such more ever-remembering and rewarding efforts will be continued in future by joining hands together by the forest officials, the local functionaries, the common people and the entire nation by introducing and preserving more and more species to bring back the nature in its original form.