West Bengal forest department has taken a unique initiative to expand the area of grasslands for free movement of one-horned rhinos in north Bengal, commemorating the World Rhino Day.

Every year on September 22, people celebrate World Rhino Day to raise awareness about the various rhinoceros species and the threats they face. The Day provides a forum for a variety of  communities, NGOs, wildlife conservation organizations, research facilities, and concerned individuals, to come together and look for innovative ways to end poaching practices and save some critically endangered rhinoceros species from extinction.

According to state forest minister Jyoti Priya Mullick, the grasslands of Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar district and Gorumara National Park in Jalpaiguri district are two main areas for free movement of these one-horned rhinos. "Now we have created provisions for extending that space at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in Darjeeling district and Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar district," he added.

Although Jaldapara National Park and Gorumara National Park are two main abodes of one-horned rhinos in north Bengal, the existence of such species of animals have also been spotted in other jungles in this sector.

Guwahati: One-horned rhinos busy grazing on a grassland inside their enclosure at the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden, in Guwahati on Sept 22, 2018. September 22 is observed as World Rhino Day. (Photo: IANS)IANS

"However, those additional spaces do not have enough grassland areas, which are the ideal roaming spaces for the free movement of those one-horned rhinos. So we have expanded the grassland areas at Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and Buxa Tiger Reserve," the state forest minister said.

Besides expanding the grasslands in these new areas, the forest department has also taken initiatives for ensuring the safety of these animals from poachers by setting up necessary infrastructure there.

Watchtowers, patrolling points

"Besides setting up watchtowers separately there, initiatives have also been taken to set up separate patrolling- points in those added grasslands areas. Specially trained elephants are being kept at these patrol- points, who will be used for the patrolling purpose," said a senior official of the state forest department.

Earlier in August this year, the department took an initiative for creating fresh grasslands on 300 hectares of land within Jaldapara National Park alone over an inverted U-shaped area scattered over the western, northern and eastern ranges of the national park.

Rhino day
World Rhino dayIANS

Poaching of Rhinos

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said strict action is being taken again poaching of Rhinos in the state. Commemorating the World Rhino Day, the Chief Minister said that rhinos are the prized members of the state's abundant faunal variety.

Taking to 'X', Sarma wrote, "Rhinos, synonymous with the identity of Assam, are cherished members of the State's rich faunal biodiversity... The protection of this magnificent animal has been a top priority of Govt of Assam and in the last few years, we have made consistent efforts in this regard which has resulted in zero poaching cases of rhinos in the State for the first time."

(With inputs from IANS)