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First translocated rhino gives birth in Manas National park

The Indian Express, Guwahati, 3rd June, 2013

Mainao, the first rhino that was translocated to the Manas National Park in western Assam in 2006, has given birth to a healthy calf in its new home, confirming that the World Heritage Site that till recently had Unesco's "in danger" tag was actually back on the rails.

Mainao — meaning the goddess of wealth in the Bodo language — was spotted along with its new-born calf near the Rupahi anti-poaching camp under Bhuyanpara range of the national park early Sunday morning, and was immediately photographed by forest and conservation staff working towards bringing Manas back to shape. The 950-sq km park was devastated during a decade-long militancy that finally ended with the Bodo peace accord in 2003.

This, incidentally, is the third rhino in Manas giving birth since translocation began in 2006, but is significant because while Mainao was the first rhino to be shifted there, she was earlier hand-reared after being rescued during a massive flood in the Kaziranga National Park in 2002 when she was barely a few weeks old.

Growing up under the care of vets at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), run by the Assam Forest Department, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust of India, near Kaziranga, Mainao became Rhino No 1 when the translocation programme began.

Two other female rhinos, Rhino 17 and Rhino 8, translocated in 2012 and 2011, respectively, had also given birth to healthy calves in Manas, these being on March 23 and March 25, respectively, this year.

"This is a remarkable achievement in the history of rhino rehabilitation in Manas. This moment is another step towards bringing back Manas to its former glory," said Bodoland Territorial Council deputy chief Kampa Borgoyari, who had named the rhino Mainao seven years ago. Vivek Menon, executive director, WTI and regional director, South Asia, IFAW, said that Mainao's giving birth to a calf had proved 'back-to-the-wild' to be feasible. "Mainao was the first ever rhino to be hand-reared and rehabilitated in the country, proving that 'back-to-the-wild' was a feasible alternative for such displaced rhino calves," he said.