A proposal for the reintroduction of rhinos in Corbett Tiger Reserve has been approved by the Uttarakhand wildlife advisory board. According to chief wildlife warden, Rajiv Bhartari, who spoke to HT, they have emphasised that the environmental conditions and geographical terrain were suitable for the species.
The sighting of a male rhino near Kotdwara in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand in 1789 as per wildlife experts proves that the rhinoceros existed in the Himalayan state.
Bharatari also said that the proposal was approved under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the 14th meeting of the state wildlife board in Dehradun. The meeting also stressed that the reintroduction of rhinos in Corbett Tiger Reserve will boost wildlife tourism in the state.
Rhinoceros will be brought from either Assam or West Bengal as the maximum population of the species resides there. Bharatari added that before that, a proposal to the union environment ministry will be sent on the translocation task.
Scientist at Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun, Qamar Qureshi, had recommended the reintroduction of rhinos in Corbett Tiger Reserve in 2007. He said that they had studied Uttarakhand’s protected forest areas where the rhinos could be introduced.
He further said that they found out that only three areas were primarily suitable for the reintroduction of rhinos. The first one being Corbett and the next being Surai Range of Terai East Forest Division on the southeastern end of Uttarakhand and the last, Paterpani on the south of Dhikala grassland. With good floral diversity and more protected forest cover, Corbett is best suited as a place for the reintroduction of the species.
As seen in the 2014 tiger census, Corbett had 215 tigers, the highest in the country. This number was followed by Bandipur which had 120. According to the latest tiger census, released in July of last year, Uttarakhand is home to 442 tigers. Reserve wise estimates are yet to be released. Wildlife officials say that the number of tigers is steadily increasing in Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Qureshi believes that conflicts between adult rhinos and tigers are rare. Tigers only attack young rhinos and elephants, he added.