Pilibhit Tiger Reserve to lure rhinos from Nepal

Pilibhit (IANS) Officials at the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Uttar Pradesh are planning to lure rhinos from Nepal to “settle down” in the Mahof forest range’s Lagga Bagga area and make it a permanent home.

Till now, the rhinos have been seasonal visitors in the area and return to their home in Nepal after a brief stay.

Mudit Gupta, the regional coordinator of WWF-India, said: “The project aims at natural exchange of genes with local rhinos for better off springs.”

The Lagga Bagga forest area of PTR adjoins the Royal Shuklaphanta National Park of Nepal.

The rhinos from Nepal naturally migrate to this region, as revealed by camera trap pictures, in winter because of its natural resources.

“Lagga Bagga spans 1,905.20 hectares, sharing a 14-km border with Nepal’s Royal Shuklaphanta National Park. It has rich grasslands, plenty of water bodies, swampy wetlands and unobstructed wild corridors, all favourable conditions for the rhinos,” said Divisional Forest Officer Naveen Khandelwal.

According to Khandelwal, a similar thing happened in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, where a herd of wild elephants from Nepal initially migrated for a short span of time but subsequently, stayed on permanently.

“We intend to ensure frequent movement of rhinos from Nepal to PTR and to gradually let them make their habitat here. We are pursuing the proposed plan on a war footing,” he saidl.

For this purpose, work is on to identify the species of grass which rhinos like the most. As they love rolling in the mud and swamp, adequate wetlands are necessary.

Khandelwal said that the rhino population in Nepal went up to 752 in 2021 from 645, estimated six years ago in 2015.

The Shuklaphanta park has as many as 17 one-horned rhinos as per the last count.

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