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IRV 2020 programme has been launched by WHO-India, with an aim to protect and increase the population of the one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). The goal of the programme is to attain their wild population to at least 3000 in the Indian state of Assam by 2020. Rhinos are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. Assam has been chosen for the programme because this state has the maximum population of rhinos and they are spread across seven protected areas. To achieve the targeted number, the programme needs an increase by 600 over the existing population available in the state in next eight years. This means an annual increase of about 3 percent.

Under the programme, the horns of rhinos will be trimmed before their translocation to Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaon district of the state. The trimming will be done in a way that any damage is not done to their internal organs and the trimmed horns will grow back to their original shape within four to five months. This action of trimming will also protect them from the poachers, who hunt them just to take away their horns. This is a partnership programme of the Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Through strict protection, the declining population of 10–20 rhinos in 1905 has recovered to more than 1800 individuals in 2007. However, more than 86 percent of India’s rhinos live in just one national park, Kaziranga. Only few other national parks, such as Orang and Pobitora, carry valuable populations of Indian rhinos. The risk to loose rhinos to disease, poaching and other problems (e.g. habitat destruction, traffic) has grown with the increase of human populations around the national parks and the always growing demand for rhino horns.

Orang National Park (NP) is a small national park (around 72 km²), located on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra, to the west of Kaziranga NP. The rhino population currently ranges around 68 Indian rhinos. This is the third largest population of Indian Rhinos in India. Tiger and other rare species live in this national park as well. Orang NP is directly surrounded by communities to the north, west and east. In the past, there have been insufficient infrastructure and security systems, which led to high poaching activities (between 1995 and 2000, 64 rhinos were poached). The rangers did not have the means to go on daily patrols, neither during the dry nor during the rainy season. Being located in a very beautiful natural setting, Orang NP has the potential to become a very attractive tourist site and to raise an income through ecotourism. However, this field has never been developed because of the proximity of the well-known Kaziranga NP. Within IRV 2020, Orang NP has received special attention as the population of rhinos live in a very good area but need strong protection. Orang NP is one of the seven national parks in Assam that help to carry a sustainable Indian rhino population in the near future and, through its location, also carries the potential to become a corridor area between Kaziranga and the northern part of Assam in the future.

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