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| Last Updated:07/06/2020

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Rhino numbers rise in West Bengal


                                                                                                                                         The Hindu, New Delhi, 13th March, 2015

West Bengal is now home to the second highest population of the one-horned rhinoceros in the country after Assam, with the number growing to 250 in the State.

A State Forest Department survey in January has revealed that the Jaldapara National Park in the State has nearly 200 of these endangered animals and the Gorumara National Park, 50. Jaldapara now has the second highest population of them after the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, which has over 2,000.

Jaldapara recorded 186 in the previous survey in 2013 and Gorumara 46 in 2014, V.K. Sood, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), North Bengal, told The Hindu on Thursday.

Describing the rise in the rhinoceros population as a major success, Forest Minister Benoy Krishna Barman said the State had just 20 of these animals in 1990. “From 20 in 1990 to 250 now is a major feat. This is the result of conservation efforts and [work of] our local communities,” Mr. Barman said.

Admitting to incidents of poaching, the Minister said the State had set up a new body involving personnel of forces such as the Border Security Force and the Shashatra Seema Bal. The rhino habitat is on the borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

Reports showed at least five incidents of poaching in north Bengal in the past year. The State Wildlife Board has suggested that forest guards be issued shoot-at-sight orders, but the government has so far not agreed to it.

Experts point out that the rhino population has a skewed male-female ratio — 2:1.4 in Gorumara.