MANAS, India, April 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A healthy, female calf has been born in Manas National Park, to a rhinoceros hand-raised by IFAW-WTI as an orphan and moved to the park as part of a species reintroduction.
"This is the first calf born in the wild in India from a rhino that had been hand-raised, rehabilitated and released to the wild," said Azzedine Downes, president and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
"The poaching of wild rhinos is at an all-time high and this birth gives great hope to the team confronting the crisis."
The Rhino Rehabilitation Project is a pioneering joint venture of the Assam Forest Department, IFAW– Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), and Bodoland Territorial Council to hand-raise orphaned or displaced calves to release them in the wild. To date, five hand-raised rhino calves, three females and two males, have been moved to Manas.The new mother, named Ganga by her rehabilitators, was rescued as a three-month-old calf during the annual floods in the famed Kaziranga National Park in June 2004. She was admitted to the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga, and in 2007, she along with another female calf was moved to Manas National Park. "Ganga was one of the first rhinos to reach Manas as part of the reintroduction. This birth marks yet another crucial milestone in our efforts to bring Manas back to its former glory," said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, Regional Head, IFAW-WTI. Manas had lost all its rhinos by the 1990s as the area reeled under severe civil conflict. It was also declared a World Heritage Site in danger. A number of initiatives including the rhino reintroduction have been implemented here since peace was largely restored in early 2000s. In 2011, the 'in danger' tag was lifted by UNESCO.