Rhino conservation also provides opportunities for further engagement with local communities
Translocations are just one component of successful rhino conservation. Local communities that live near or share rhino habitats play a critical role in helping to sustain their populations. In partnership with WWF and other NGOS, the local government and the Bodoland Territorial Council have led efforts to involve local communities in conservation. These groups have provided support to local community conservation organizations in and around Manas to raise awareness on the importance of conservation in their area and train youth and other community members to help monitor and patrol the park. In addition, these partners have been supporting communities to develop local tourism and catering opportunities to promote tourism in the area, which brings in additional livelihood opportunities.
The future for greater one-horned rhinos
Since 2008, 20 rhinos have been translocated and all translocated females have given birth at least once since they were moved to their new homes, with 26 calves born by April 2020. This growing population is evidence that these tireless efforts are paying off for rhino conservation.
“Concerted efforts like these by greater one-horned rhino range country governments and partners are why this species is one of the greatest large mammal conservation success stories in Asia. It is one of few mammals in the region to be downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species, a testament to diligent conservation actions. Manas NP is a shining example of this success,” added Nilanga Jayasinghe, Senior Program Officer for Asian species conservation at WWF.
Today, there are around 3,700 greater one-horned rhinos in Asia, up from only 200 at the beginning of the 20th century. While the species continues to face threats from poaching and habitat loss and degradation, indicators of population growth like those from Manas are certainly cause for hope.