Rhino and Cattle, Pobitora, Assam

by Pralay Lahiry
Pralay Lahiry

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The presence of a large number of cattle inside Pobitora in close proximity to over 90 rhinos is a reason for grave concern, since rinderpest or other diseases carried by livestock might wipe out the entire population in a very short time.

This image was captured in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam in November 2014. This small sanctuary, just 30 km east of Guwahati, houses the highest density of wild rhinos in the world. It is hemmed in on all sides by villages. It also has a sizeable population of Asiatic Water Buffalos, Wild Boar, Jackals and a huge variety of resident and migratory birds. Though declared a sanctuary in 1987 it has an extremely porous border, with cattle, wood cutters and herdsmen freely moving in and out. During certain festivals, hordes of villagers descend inside the sanctuary and catch fish freely in the wetlands, driving away the birds and animals. However, the presence of a large number of cattle inside the sanctuary in close proximity to the rhinos is a reason for grave concern since rinderpest or other diseases carried by cattle might wipe out the entire population in a very short time. Also, Pobitora has exceeded its rhino-bearing capacity and is overpopulated with over 90 rhinos surviving in a mere 16 sq km area of rhino habitat. Wild animals have begun moving outside the sanctuary in search of food, and chances of serious man-animal conflict are quite rife. Besides, the straying animals run the risk of contracting diseases that afflict domestic animals. The rules need to be enforced strictly and alternative means of grazing be provided to villagers as soon as possible before everything is lost.

Under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) which is a joint programme of the department of environment & forests, Govt of Assam, WWF India, the International Rhino Foundation and the US fish & wildlife service, six rhinos were translocated from Pobitora and re-inroduced into the Manas National Park between December 2010 and January 2011. Earlier, under the same programme, two rhinos were similarly translocated from Pobitora to the Manas national Park in 2008. The goal of IRV 2020 is to increase the total rhino population in Assam to 3,000 by the year 2020 and, just as significantly, to ensure that these rhinos are distributed over at least seven Protected Areas to provide long-term viability.

Reference: Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

About the author

Pralay Lahiry
Pralay Lahiry is a wildlife photographer based in Kolkata. Assam's wildlife is his prime interest and its conservation his priority.


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