Rhinos Return To Assam's Laokhowa-Burachapori Sanctuaries

The return of the rhinoceroses after 40 years is a result of painstaking conservation endeavours aimed at revitalising the biodiversity of the sanctuaries
Rhinos have returned to Assam's Laokhowa-Burachapori Sanctuaries after four decades
Rhinos have returned to Assam's Laokhowa-Burachapori Sanctuaries after four decadesShutterstock

In a monumental conservation success, Assam's Laokhowa and Burachapori wildlife sanctuaries have witnessed the return of rhinos after a significant absence of 40 years. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma revealed that the pachyderms have reappeared in these protected areas following the eradication of poaching and human encroachment.

The re-emergence of rhinos marks a remarkable turnaround for these sanctuaries, which have faced severe threats to their biodiversity due to illegal activities and habitat degradation. Sarma expressed his delight, stating, "Happy to share that after 40 years, our iconic Rhinos have returned to Laokhowa and Burachapori. They have returned within one year of our successful anti-encroachment operation in the region."

Efforts to reclaim the natural habitat proved fruitful, as 51.7 square kilometres of forest cover were restored through eviction drives conducted in 2023. Sonali Ghosh, the Director of Kaziranga National Park (KNP), affirmed the sighting of two rhinos in the Laokhowa-Burachapori sanctuaries, a part of the expansive "Greater Kaziranga" landscape.

Overcoming Challenges For Rhino Conservation

Ghosh recalled the sanctuaries' past, stating that the Laokhowa-Burachapori forests once harboured a population of 45-50 rhinos until 1983 before falling prey to poaching activities. Subsequently, the habitat suffered from human-induced pressure, leading to the degradation of grasslands. While occasional rhino sightings from neighbouring regions occurred, the animals did not establish a lasting presence in these sanctuaries.

However, recent observations in November revealed the return of rhinos, possibly migrating from the second addition of Orang National Park and the revitalised areas of Arimari, following the eviction drives. Beyond the rhino population, the sanctuaries boast a habitat accommodating ten tigers, underlining the importance of the restoration efforts.

Last year's eviction drive, conducted from February 13 to 15, cleared 1,282 hectares of forest land and 817 hectares of unsurveyed government land. To further fortify conservation endeavours, Ghosh highlighted filling 75 frontline positions, including deputy ranger roles, demonstrating the government's commitment to strengthening the landscape and rejuvenating the forest's lost splendour.

Commitment To Conservation

The success at Laokhowa-Burachapori sanctuaries signifies a pivotal moment in conservation history, celebrating the revival of a once-dwindling population. It underscores the collective efforts to combat poaching and reclaim habitats essential for preserving endangered species.

The successful eviction drives in 2023 and strategic wildlife management initiatives have rejuvenated the sanctuaries and paved the way for a harmonious coexistence between wildlife and local communities.

Moving forward, sustained vigilance, community engagement, and proactive measures remain imperative to ensure the continued protection and flourishing of Assam's diverse wildlife.

(With inputs from PTI)

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller