Context: The Assam government has approved the addition of 30.53 sq. km (3,053 hectares) to the 884 sq. km Kaziranga National Park.
Kaziranga National Park
- More than 90 percent of Assam’s rhinos were now concentrated in just one park — Kaziranga National Park— with small populations in Orang National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Along with the iconic Greater one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
- The park has 57% of the world’s wild water buffalo population, one of the largest groups of Asian elephants and 21 Royal Bengal tigers per 100 sq.km – one of the highest striped cat density.
- Over the time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006.
- Also, the park is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
- Kaziranga National Park is also a World Heritage Site in India in the natural category.
- The rhino may well be a keystone species – known to have a disproportionately large impact on its environment relative to its population.
- There are five species of rhinos, of which only one — the Indian rhino — is found in the country.
- Their horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.
- The Indian rhino was moved from its status of endangered (since 1986) to vulnerable in 2008 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- The first successful attempt to move rhinos out of Assam and re-introduce them into a similar habitat was made in 1984 in Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa national park.
Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020)
- Launched in 2005, the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 aimed to boost the population of rhinos in Assam State (3,000 by 2020) and expand the species’ range within the state from three protected areas (Kaziranga, Pobitora, Orang national park) to seven (Kaziranga, Pobitora, Orang National Park, Manas National Park, Burachapori and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuaries and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park).
- This ambitious project, called the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020), was launched in 2005 in response to the declining population of rhinos in Assam.
- Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals.
- All rhinos have poor eyesight. Rhinos have blurred vision and tend to attack based on smell and hearing.
- Rhinos are found in parts of Africa and Asia, depending on the species.
Where do rhinos live?
- There are five species of rhino found in the world – two in Africa, and three in Asia.
- The black rhino lives in the grasslands and savannahs of Africa, where all four of its subspecies are listed as critically endangered.
- One subspecies, Western Black Rhinoceros, was declared extinct in 2011.
- Black rhinos have two horns on their heads, with the front one being larger.
- Black rhinos aren’t actually black. Their name likely differentiates them from white rhinos, whose name is a corruption of the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means “wide” and describes the mouth of the rhinos.
- There are two subspecies of the white rhino, the Southern White Rhino and the Northern White Rhino, which is presumed to be extinct.
- The Southern White rhino is considered “near threatened,” and is the least endangered of the rhino species.
- The white rhino is the largest of the rhino species, and have two horns, with the front one being larger.
- The largest populations of white rhinos are found in South Africa.
- White rhinos’ name comes from the Afrikaans word “weit,” meaning “wide,” which describes their mouths. English settlers misheard the name.
- The Javan rhino is the rarest of the rhino species, with only between 27 and 44 individuals thought to live in the wild.
- They are believed to have been poached from their former habitat in Vietnam and are now found only in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park on the island of Java.
- They are listed as critically endangered.
- Javan rhinos are also the smallest of the rhinos, and have only one horn on their head.
- These solitary rhinos are very rarely seen.
Greater One-Horned Rhino
- As its name suggests, the Greater One-horned rhino has only one horn.
- They are similar in size to white rhinos.
- Greater one-horneds are the most amphibious of the rhino species and will immerse themselves in water and munch on aquatic plants.
- The greater one-horned rhino (Vulnerable) found in India and Nepal
- The Sumatran rhino has two horns.
- The Sumatran rhino (Critically Endangered) found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.