All the rhinoceroses

All the rhinoceroses

Context

Counting one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population of the ‘vulnerable’ species, is no easy task

Problems faced in the process

  • Shortage of guards: require at least 3,000 men to be deployed in 8 hour shifts. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, only has a staff strength of about 1,300, of which 200 are casual workers.
  • Difficult for elephants: The elephant-back estimation is tough on the elephant as it is carrying weight (enumerator, guard, etc.), it sweats more as the day gets hotter
  • Inflated headcount: The headcount approach based on sighting by humans could lead to inflated figures
  • Death of Rhinos after counting process: Some Rhinos die after the counting so difficult to arrive at the final number
  • Poor burning of tall grasses: The total count method relies heavily on the visibility of animals. Officials say that poor burning of tall grasses and reeds due to high moisture content have led to fewer rhinos being sighted this time

Facts about Kaziranga National Park

  • Ranges of KNP: Kohora (or Central) is one of the five ranges of KNP, the others are Agratoli (or Eastern), Bagori (or Western), Burapahar, and the Northern Range
  • Shrinking area: The KNP used to be 1,030 sq km, with a core area of 482 sq km, when it was notified as a tiger reserve in 2007. But erosion by the Brahmaputra has shrunk it to 884 sq km now
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