Asian Rhino Projectx

Past Projects

Since its inception Asian Rhino Project (ARP) has directed 100% of donations into projects that assist in the conservation of Asian Rhinos. The variety of projects and ways in which we have been able to assist are outlined below and in more detail in our annual reports and newsletters. For more information on these projects please refer to the annual reports which can be downloaded at the bottom of the page or contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Rhino Protection Unit Equipment, Sumatran Rhino Borneo, 2004/2005

This was one of our first major fundraising events. Funds raised to purchase this equipment was from sponsorship for Clare campbell and Kerry Crosbie in the Borneo Rhino Challenge. $7,300 was raised which purchased 5 GPS systems, 2 Digital cameras, 2 satellite phones, 1 outboard motor, and 1 generator.

Rhino Rescue Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatran Rhino Indonesia, 2004/2005

Kerinci was estimated to hold a minimum of 250 rhino with a capacity for 500-1000 in 1989. In 2004 the population had dwindled to a mere 3 or 4. A last ditch effort was actioned to capture these doomed rhino and relocate them to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas which the ARP agreed to fund. Devastatingly it appeared we were too late as when the teams went in to find them they could find no traces. The rhino are now considered extinct in this park.

Investigation into the Illegal Trade in Rhino Horn, India 2004-2006

Funded by the ARP the Wildlife Trust of India undertook a short study on the population status and hunting trends of the Indian Rhino between 1995-2005. The study revealed that poaching incidences increased in Orang NP, the population was lower in Kaziranga during this time and there was little change in Probitora and Jalapara.

One rhino was poached in 2001 in Manas NP and there have been suggestions of rhino sightings in the park where the rhino are thought to be extinct.

Information also revealed that more rhinos were killed during the winter months when the grasses die down reducing camouflage for the rhino and that the most common method for poaching the rhino was from gunshot or electrocution from lines attached to overhanging powerlines.

Regular operations by the Forest Department resulted in many seizures of rhino horns during this period.

Rhino Conservation medicine Program, Sumatran Rhino Indonesia, 2006 – 2010

This program was initiated to implement a "Rhinoceros Conservation Medicine Program" (RCMP) to support the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary Program & other rhino conservation efforts both in the wild and in captivity.  The Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) is a 250-acre complex located within Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia. Its four rhinos – 'Andalas', 'Rosa', 'Ratu' and 'Bina' – have been part of an intensively managed research and breeding program aimed at increasing our knowledge about the Sumatran rhino with the ultimate aim of increasing the population in the wild. At the SRS, the rhinos reside in large, open areas where they can experience a natural rainforest habitat while still receiving state-of-the-art veterinary care and nutrition.

The rhinos living at the SRS serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, and as instruments for education for local communities and the general public. The population also is an 'insurance' population that can be used to re-establish or revitalize wild populations that have been eliminated or debilitated, an invaluable resource for biological research, and hopefully, in the future, could be a source population for reintroductions, once threats have been eliminated in their natural habitat.

The RCMP extended itself to assist with all species of rhino (Asian and African species) both in-situ and ex-situ.  The primary responsibility for this position was as an advisory role for the Sumatran rhino conservation program in Indonesia with teaching and consultation responsibilities.

Facilitation and supervision of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) and Way Kambas disease survey -The diseases of Sumatran rhinoceros remain little understood. Natural protected areas including Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in Southeast Sumatra are increasingly subject to the pressures of human encroachment and their livestock. This study examined both domestic and captive wild animals and their disease through serial biological sampling over time. Significant preliminary findings included the discovery of several new parasites never before reported in the Sumatran rhinoceros.

The successful transfer of Andalas from the USA to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Way Kambas -This move was conducted as part of the captive Sumatran rhino breeding program recommended from the Global Management & Propagation Board for the Sumatran rhinoceros.

Review health aspects of Andalas transport with focus on tick-borne disease - Tick-borne diseases are endemic in the Way Kambas ecosystem based on preliminary study of the domestic and wild animals of the region. If the rhinos and domestic animals are exposed from birth in the presence of these agents they may have developed acquired immunity lending protection against fulminate disease. Based on this information and current best knowledge it was felt the most critical health concern related to the translocation of the zoo-born Sumatran rhino, Andalas, from the USA to Indonesia was uncontrolled infection with tick-borne protozoan hemoparasites. As a result, he was given an immunization and tick exposure protocol which began with a series of pre-shipment vaccinations followed by a slow introduction to the parasites. Blood was collected and regular medical observations carried out to monitor changes associated with tick inoculation and tickborne disease exposure. All of this data will be used to help better understand the process of adaptation and the role of vaccination as a tool for the prevention of morbidity and mortality related to tickborne diseases in this highly endangered species.

Professional veterinary training and education with SRS staff -The SRS staff gained new experience as the rhinoceros collection expanded. A major role of Dr Radcliffe’s visits to the SRS was to assist the SRS veterinary staff with up to date specialist medicine procedures and protocols, assess rhino health, and to prepare and plan and assist in specialist procedures. Dr Radcliffe also facilitated the visits and establishment of the ARP Veterinary Support Team.

Reinvigorate outreach activities in Way Kambas through new village dance collaboration and initiate the first annual Andalas Art Contest – Dr Radcliffe and the SRS staff were instrumental in assisting local awareness on the Sumatran rhino. Dr Radcliffe authored a children’s book with a conservation message on the Sumatran rhino and participated in activities with village people surrounding the park. A rhino dance was initiated as a result that plays a great role in increasing awareness on their unique rhino.

Translocate 2 African white rhinoceros at the Sao Paulo Zoo –In May of 2007, Dr. Radcliffe was invited to the Sao Paulo Zoo in Brazil to assist with the move of two adult white rhinoceros. Normally such a move would not be an issue however, this one was a challenge because the rhino pair were closely bonded and inseparable, the zoo had only one crate for the move, the use of etorphine or M99 (the preferred drug for moving rhinos) was prohibited in Brazil AND crate conditioning of the pair was not proceeding well despite months of work. The move was accomplished successfully and without any problems. Dr Radcliffe also lectured at the zoo and local university about the important role of the RCMP.

Start new initiative with Cornell Expanding Horizons in collaboration with Murdoch University for trypanosome study of rhinos and sentinel animals -In 2003, a potential threat to the preservation of the Sumatran rhinoceros was identified. Five Sumatran rhinoceros died of trypanosomiasis in a conservation center in Selangor Malaysia. This is the first report of trypanosomiasis in Sumatran rhinoceros. Trypanosomiasis is a fatal disease of horses, camels, elephants, and dogs in Asia and transmitted mechanically by tabanid flies. Tabanid bites are painful, causing animals to react defensively; thus the fly often locates a second host to complete its blood meal. While biting the second host, the fly inoculates the host with the freshly acquired parasite. The Malaysian rhinoceros environment supported the trypanosomiasis diagnosis. Tabanids were abundant at the rhino centre with increased numbers during the time of the epidemic. Researchers originally believed that the Sumatran rhinoceros parasite was a salivarian trypanosome, Trypanosoma evansi. A herd of buffalo housed adjacent to the Sumatran rhino conservation centre shared a fence with the reserve, thus raising concerns of a potential reservoir for T. evansi.

The goal of this project was to identify potential reservoirs of pathogenic trypanosomes near Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) that threaten the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis). Many questions about the trypanosome species and vectors remain unknown. The results of this study will affect future management decisions regarding not only the TNWK rhinoceros population, but also wild populations in other areas of Indonesia where protected areas are increasingly threatened by encroachment of humans and their domestic animals. This study may also aid in establishment of future and biosecure rhinoceros sanctuaries.

Reproductive Monitoring - Routine ultrasound is continuing to be a useful tool for the SRS veterinary team to use in predicting the optimal time for mating in the Sumatran rhino. Routine ultrasound examination of the testes and internal accessory sex glands of both male rhinos is also conducted.

Staff Professional Training and Development - Routine anaesthesia practices and anaesthetic monitoring techniques are practiced with the SRS staff whenever anaesthesia is performed. Hands-on practice of animal darting, dart-gun equipment handling, and chemical restraint training techniques are also carried out.

Veterinary Internship - As part of its commitment to training and development for students and staff alike, the SRS began an internship program. The program offers a 6-12 month veterinary training experience based at the SRS with a focus to provide training through hands-on experience in a broad range of disciplines focused on providing optimal medical care for the five endangered rhinos at the sanctuary.

Emergency evacuation protocols -In 1997, before the SRS received its first rhinoceros, a serious wildfire swept through parts of Way Kambas National Park and devastated the forest. Presumably many rhinos died in this fire. In the years since, fire danger has been high at times when the Way Kambas dry season has persisted for longer than usual. The SRS has now developed a plan to secure the sanctuary in case of a fire or other natural disaster. The crates and paddocks are now prepared for a timely rescue of the rhinos in case immediate evacuation of the animals is indicated.

Student Projects - Below is an outline of two studies carried out at the SRS as a part of the RCMP.

Identification of trypanosome reservoirs and infectious disease risks to the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) through polymerase chain reaction

This investigation confirmed previous suspicions that multiple trypanosome reservoirs surround the national park. Whether the domestic ungulates in the villages surrounding the park are infected with predominantly pathogenic species has yet to be determined.   These results will affect future management decisions regarding the Way Kambas rhinoceros population and wild populations in other areas of Indonesia. Trypanosomes is believed to be the cause of the sudden deaths of five Sumatran rhino in Sungai Dusun Sumatran Rhino Conservation Centre, Malaysia Peninsula in 2003.

Parasitology as a tool in Conservation Medicine for health surveillance in captive and wild Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) with a comparison to sympatric populations

A comprehensive survey conducted to establish baseline data for parasite type and prevalence found in faeces of captive and wild Sumatran rhinoceros, Indian elephant and native Zebu cattle in Way Kambas National Park, Indonesia with special attention to existing rhino Paramphistomidae burden. Reservoir hosts, sources of infection and maintenance of fluke population (life cycle) in the sanctuary environment was also examined.

Rhino Introductions - Veterinary staff closely monitor the daily reproductive status of all three of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary females through ultrasound, in hopes of successfully timing breeding opportunities.  Andalas has become the primary breeding male at the SRS – part of a targeted initiative that will utilize all of the reproductive science technologies at our disposal, including those already proven successful at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Construction of a second breeding area at the SRS - so Andalas and Torgamba could each have their own.  At the time there was only one breeding area, which was used alternately by Andalas and Torgamba during their introductions with the sanctuary’s females.  But staff noticed that often each male rhino spent more time searching for the other male’s signs and "re-marking" his territory rather than interacting with the female.  A breeding area for each male has now been constructed.

Javan Rhinoceros Protection Unit Vietnam, 2005/2006; 2006/2007

This project was a last ditch effort to work towards securing Cat Tien National Park in Vietnam to save the last of the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros from extinction. The ARP allocated $8,000 to rhino patrolling and monitoring for one year. The conservation status of the Javan Rhino remained unclear. Due to the extremely difficult terrain that the rhinos inhabit, it is extremely difficult to find signs of the rhinos. Also, different survey techniques point to conflicting information; study of field signs indicated that about 3 rhinos were surviving while DNA analysis indicates that there are 6 or 7 animals present. Refined footprint survey analysis techniques indicated even fewer. Based on field evidence at the time it was believed that there are 3 animals, no more than 5.

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s the local indigenous people had been displaced from lowlands just outside the Park by majority Kinh Vietnamese. Governmental policies favoring the growing of cash-crops (cashew) encouraged these people to replace a fallow period with growing cashew stands thus replacing natural habitat with permanently cultivated land. The operation of these farms and travel in between villages produces considerable disturbance to rhino’s habitat. Plans were in place to resettle those who inhabited areas within the most critical parts of the rhino range. These people agreed to relocate provided they see an improvement in their living conditions. The increased awareness in the project interestingly resulted in a greater general appreciation by the local people of the forest and animals in their back-yard. It created a sense of pride which in turn enables locals to be of greater direct assistance.

The habitat in which the rhinos remain was very inhospitable. Steep hills, slippery mud, dense rattan and bamboo made it an area which is hard to traverse while rhinos had ample means to remain concealed. Direct observations had never been made by scientists. Only a handful of local people and forest guards have actually saw a rhino.

Rhino Protection Unit Equipment, Sumatran Rhino Borneo, 2005/2006

Thanks to the support of ARP member Karen Rotherham the ARP was able to fund 1 generator, 6 sets of emergency lights and 15 rucksacks. Karen raised the funds through seeking sponsorship while she walked the 960km Bibbulmun track from Perth to Albany in Western Australia.

Rhino Protection Unit Equipment, Sumatran Rhino Indonesia, 2005/2006

Two satellite phones were acquired for the RPUs at Bukit Barisan Selatan NP to assist in communications within the park. These phones are not only a valuable safety item but also provide the team with a more secure line of communication regarding rhino and park surveillance.

Rhino Relocation, Sumatran Rhino Indonesia, 2005/2006

A female rhino "Rosa" was relocated from Bukit Barisan Selatan NP to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Way Kambas. Rosa had been under the protection of the RPU team for 12 months as she was often found wandering amongst plantations surrounding the park and was clearly not afraid of humans. Eventually her expeditions took her further and further from the park until she went missing for 2 whole months. She was eventually found some 50km from the park in the middle of a village! Funds for the relocation were provided by the Asian Rhino Project. Rosa is now a resident at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) as a part of the breeding program there. For more information on the SRS and the rhino there visit our Adoptions page or Current Projects pages.

Volunteer Coordinator, Sumatran Rhino Borneo, 2005/2006 & 2006/2007

As an important component of the Community Outreach Program, SOS Rhino established a Volunteer Program. Volunteers travel to Sabah to assist their field staff on rhino surveys in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve collecting data on the rhino and other flora and fauna found in the area. They also help teach English, build field camps and raise funds for the project. Volunteers are introduced to the culture of the people in the area and have the opportunity to experience firsthand a conservation and research program in action. The volunteers then act as agents of conservation by sharing their experience and raising awareness at their workplace, in their schools and in their communities.

The individuals come from a range of countries such as Australia, Denmark, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, USA, England, France, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand. They come from diverse backgrounds and some are working towards degrees in medicine, biology, veterinary, sociology and International relations; some work in zoos; and some simply pursue their passion of adventure and conservation travel.  

ARP funded a volunteer coordinator position for 1 year before it became incorporated into the Community Outreach Program.

Empowering People for Rhino Conservation Phase I and II– Nepal 2006/2007 & 2007/2008 &2008/2009

Poaching of one horned rhinoceros has become a big problem in Chitwan National Park (CNP), in Nepal. Between 2005 - 2006, 62 rhinos had died - 45 killed by poachers! Despite arrests, rhino poaching had not decreased. Chitwan National Park records revealed that more than half of the detained individuals in rhino cases were buffer zone people.

A buffer zone management program had been operating in the buffer zone area of CNP for around a decade however, due to inadequate awareness, local communities didn’t understand the theme and essence of the program and park authorities had been unable to deliver adequate initiatives due to different constraints. Furthermore, buffer zone people had not been receiving adequate compensation for crop and livestock damage by wild animals, predominantly rhinos. This led to increased conflict between the park and people and distances them from conservation.

The goal of the project was to "reduce rhino poaching in Chitwan National Park".  We have facilitated greater engagement and involvement of buffer-zone residents in conservation by providing education, motivation, mediation, and direct involvement in resolving conservation issues. 

Communities engaged in focus-group discussions, cultural programs, public debates, workshops, seminars and truth-sharing initiatives involving science and environment teachers, Village Development Committee (VDC) chairpersons, buffer-zone user committee chairpersons, wildlife victims, lawyers, and political representatives.

Furthermore, school based programs were implemented and have greatly improved the knowledge of and motivation toward conservation of future generations.  Five student rhino clubs have been established and have conducted competitions, participated in peaceful rallies, and assisted with further school presentation programs.  They have also sought conservation libraries for their schools.

For the first time in the CNP buffer-zone area, a Conservation Information Centre has been established, with conservation materials being provided by local, national and international organisations. Furthermore, local and national media have also been encouraged to provide significant coverage of conservation issues.

There are very encouraging results which indicate that EPRC project has successfully deterred buffer-zone residents from engaging in rhino poaching. In 2006, poachers in the Chitwan National Park area killed 17 rhinos.  From August 2007 to April 2008 (the EPRC project period), only 3 fatal poaching incidents occurred.

EPRC-II was entirely focused on habitat management of the rhinos in bufferzone and community forests around CNP. The project supported four community forest and one bufferzone forest for the construction of the ponds and grasslands. These all are riverine forests and most suitable as the rhino habitat. This initiative is aimed to stop rhinos from foraging into human settlements and avert resultant loss.

Five ponds constructed in community forests - The construction of five ponds was completed. Now, the rhinos at four community forests have easy access for the water and wallowing.

Grassland management - areas ploughed and unpalatable grass species removed. Prolonged drought for nine months had been playing spoilsport for the proper plantation and growth of the rhino-preferred.

Indian Rhinos Rehabilitation & Release - International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and WTI (Wildlife Trust of India).

The creation of a boma enclosure for the acclimatization of a one-horned Asian rhino prior to its re-release back into the wild.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its partner, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) rescue Indian rhino calves during the annual flooding of the Brahmaputra River in July-August, where they are hand-raised, near Kaziranga National Park, Assam, North East India. The year before IFAW and WTI relocated a single female rhino to an enclosure  in Manas Rhino Rehabilitation Station in Manas National Park for in-situ acclimatization, a critical step in her journey back to the wild. At the time of the proposal, preparations were underway for the translocation of two more rehabilitated rhinos and one wild caught male rhino in 2007.

Manas National Park is a world heritage site in Assam, India, bordering the kingdom of Bhutan in the North. Although poachers had decimated Manas’s rhino population to the point of localized extinction, recent improvements in political stability and anti-poaching enforcement made the park safe for wildlife again.

With ARP funding an existing boma was enlarged to make more room for the new arrivals. A replica of the existing facility was created on the opposite side. Since rhinos need water bodies to wallow during the hot hours of the day, the new boma also encompassed part of a perennial stream. Hume pipes were placed below the fence to facilitate the free flow of stream water through the boma. The nine strand power fence had a twin role to play: keep the rhinos confined in a large area for at least two years and at the same time keep wild elephants and large carnivores like tigers away.

The three rhinos were released into the park safely.

SOS-Rhino 07/08

Almost all hope for the Borneo rhino had evaporated before SOS-Rhino began working in Sabah in 1998.  SOS-Rhino helped protect the remaining Sumatran rhinos in Sabah, and return the species’ plight to the fore among national and international conservation concerns. The extension by three years and $600,000 to our original 5-year, US$1 million commitment was critical to the success of our efforts, and as a result, local and international NGOs and corporations are now actively involved, and Sabah’s government has called on rhino conservation experts to develop an Action Plan for this rhino. We are very pleased with this development, and the increased attention that Borneo’s last rhinos are presently receiving. 

The US-based operations of organisation transitioned out of Sabah as of June 30, 2008, handing over to the newly formed SOS-Rhino Borneo Bhd (SOSRB). SOSRB has formed a board of highly skilled, qualified and dedicated community leaders.  This is a positive development that has been further supported by Sabah’s government renewed enthusiasm for continuing its rhino conservation work.

Sabah Rhino Protection Program, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia 

The Bornean rhinoceros, a sub-species of the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni), is a critically endangered component of Malaysia’s national heritage. Sabah is the second largest State in the federation of Malaysia, situated on the northern 10% of the island of Borneo. There has been no evidence of breeding rhinos elsewhere in Borneo (Sarawak, Brunei or Kalimantan) for the past 50 years. In 1981, the only potentially viable population of rhinos remaining in Sabah was identified (by Junaidi Payne with Sabah Forestry department) as being in Commercial Forest Reserves. In 1984, that area was re-classified as Tabin Wildlife Reserve (about 120,000 hectares of regenerating logged lowland and hill dipterocarp forest). Danum Valley (43,000 hectares) was also recommended for protection in 1981, and was subsequently shown to have a small rhino population, and was removed from the Yayasan Sabah forest concession and established as Danum Valley Conservation Area.

In both Tabin and Danum, periodic evidence of rhino breeding still occurs at the same three or four sites as seen in the 1980s and 90s. Monitoring and protection of the existing wild rhino population, both in Tabin and around Danum Valley must be continued. For Danum Valley, the NGO WWF-Malaysia is working with government and Sabah Foundation to provide patrols against poaching. For Tabin, SOS Rhino Borneo.

About half of SOS Rhino Borneo’s RPU members come from villages that surround Tabin Wildlife Reserve.  All of SOS Rhino Borneo’s field and administrative support staff are Sabahans, mainly from rural communities. Employment of local staff enables and facilitates the dissemination and circulation of conservation messages which then creates the foundation for conducting community outreach programs in and around the villages through their respective village members.

SOS Rhino has played a critical role in the history of rhino conservation, and SOS Rhino Borneo intends to build upon this legacy and strengthen its leadership in alignment with the vision to protect the dignity of the animal and the integrity of its habitat into the future.

ARP secretary Daniel Scarparolo visited Borneo in 2007 to visit the SOS Rhino sites and projects. Daniel managed to save $1000 of the approved visit budget and requested that this money be put towards the SOS Rhino projects. The funds have since been used to purchase special jackets for the RPU teams. Thank you Daniel for helping to make our valuable donation dollars go that little bit further.

The Asian Rhino Project has recently agreed to fund $30,000 to the first year of the "Sabah Rhino Protection Program" supporting the SOS Rhino Borneo Rhino Protection Units. Future support for the program will be assessed again in June 2009.

Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), 08/09

Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) has been able to sustain its critical Sumatran rhino protection work for a further one year due largely to the very generous support from Asian Rhino Project.

BORA changed its name from SOS Rhino Borneo in January 2009, to better reflect its role in Sumatran rhino conservation and the fact that its new board members come from diverse backgrounds and represent a variety of organizations.

ARP has supported the work of the Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) over this time in their patrolling and monitoring of Sumatran rhinos and anti-poaching and surveillance work in and around Tabin Wildlife Reserve in eastern Sabah. The funds donated by ARP have been used for field supplies for the Tabin RPUs, contributions to RPU staff salaries, and administration costs associated with operating the RPUs. As well as the RPUs, ARP funds helped support the BORA administrative officer, Mrs Lonia Adam, in the BORA head office situated at the Institute for Biology and Conservation, University Malaysia Sabah in Kota Kinabalu. Lonia not only looks after the accounts and human resources but also liaises constantly between the field staff and the BORA board.

With the ARP funds BORA was also able to hire a team of four new staff dedicated solely to looking after Tam, the injured male rhino who was rescued from a nearby palm oil plantation in August 2008. Tam is now kept temporarily in a forest enclosure near Tabin Wildlife Reserve headquarters and receives round the clock care and monitoring by the staff employed by BORA.

There are a number of developments ongoing in relation to rhino conservation in Sabah. The government has given formal approval to capture a very few rhinos which are located outside Tabin and protected areas, for translocation to Tabin. In Tabin, it is intended to build a very large sanctuary area, bounded by a gravel road and electrified fencing, into which rhinos rescued from other, non-viable sites, will be brought. This is really the last ditch effort to make active interventions to save the rhino from extinction in Borneo – prevention of poaching (by the RPUs with the government authorities) and bringing together in one area the last few rhinos which may be unrelated, boosting the genetic diversity of Tabin’s small wild rhino population.

Well Filling Project, Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra 07/08

24 years ago, the Indonesian Government gazetted the 130,000-hectare Way Kambas National Park in south-eastern Sumatra. Eight villages and about 4500 households were relocated. Each family left behind a well and a cesspit, which forest regrowth quickly covered. Those hidden wells are a deadly legacy threatening the very animals the park is designed to protect. The lowland and swamp forest park is home to the rare Sumatran tiger and the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. It also shelters the smallest sub-species of Asian elephant.

After the discovery of four elephant calves in these wells the problem is now receiving attention. Rescuers have also found the bones of tigers, rhinoceroses and other species at the bottom of these pits. A coordinated effort is now under way to find and fill these death-traps, using foreign donations for the $60,000 project.

Veterinarian Claire Oelrichs has taken on the task of resourcing these vital funds. Claire first became aware of the death traps when she received an email from the Elephant clinic at Way Kambas requesting medical advice on how to get a surviving baby elephant from the wells on to her feet. Oelrichs is no stranger to the park and its conservation needs. A vigorous conservationist and regular visitor to the park, she has collected funds and medical supplies for local conservation before. She works closely with national parks staff with the organisation Eco Lodges Indonesia of which ARP has supported also this year.

Way Kambas is home to an estimated 20 Sumatran rhino. With this in mind the Asian Rhino Project has assisted Claire and her fundraising efforts for this project. In June ARP donated $5,000 to assist in filling these pits. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Claire, a further $30,000 has been sent (financial yr 08-09). 1059 of 4,500 wells have now been closed. Recently another elephant calf was found trapped in a well and thanks to the efforts of all involved was successfully returned to its herd.

Way Kambas Elephant Sanctuary Assistance, Sumatra, Indonesia 07/08

ARP has donated $5000 this year for in kind support of the veterinary team at the Way Kambas Elephant Sanctuary (WKES), Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra. This sanctuary is currently developing an ecotourism project with the aim of providing education about conservation as well as providing suitable care for the elephants at the centre and protecting the future of the wild elephants within the park.

Projects like this help to protect the park as a whole and this will therefore benefit not only the elephants but also the rhinos of Way Kambas.

WWF Camera Trapping Program, Ujung Kulon National Park, Java 07/08, 08/09 & 09/10

Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is the rarest of the 5 rhino species worldwide.  With the very low population size (fewer than 50 individuals) in Ujung Kulon, these animals are not readily visible.  Researchers and experts have relied more on signs such as foot print, excrements, feeding signs rather than direct sightings to study this fascinating species over the past years.  In 1993 Mike Griffith made a significant breakthrough by using automatic camera to photograph the Javan rhinos and identify the individual rhinos using parameters such as horn size, eye folds, and other distinctive markings.

Starting in early 2000’s WWF Indonesia continued this method using infrared triggered camera (improvement from pad sensor used by Griffith and team) which proved to be easier to install, more sensitive to objects, and survived longer in the field. 

The Asian Rhino Project and the International Rhino Foundation have purchased 35 digital camera traps for the WWF managed project. These traps will allow park managers to estimate population size relying on identification and comparison of photographed rhinos for two different survey periods. These surveys and the placement of camera traps in the home range of female rhinos will also allow the team to access rhino birth rates and reproduction. It will also give the team information for selecting individual rhino for further study using video trap units.  Video trap units will monitor and study the behaviour of several different rhinos; thus complementing the rhino monitoring activities.

 In May 2009, WWF and Ujung Kulon National Park officials released the first video of a Javan rhino from a video camera trap, which recorded remarkable images of a Javan rhino accompanied by a calf. Javan rhino are known as solitary mammals, for the tendency of these animals to roam individually (except during mating season, or when nurturing the young calves).  However, the recent finding from video trap equipment is not consistent with the above view.  During the months of September and October 2009, the survey teams were perplexed by the occurrences of several video clips from different parts of rhino habitat in Ujung Kulon National Park that show two male rhinos wallowingtogether as a “pair” (at the same time in the same wallow holes).  Other thanpairs of mother and calf, this “communal” wallowing behavior of male rhinos was never previously recorded; thus adding on to the list of activities comprising the behavior of the Javan rhinoceros.

Further investigation in the field revealed that during this period (the dry season) many of the wallow holes, as well as any sources of water are depleted.  Previous observations indicate that wallowing is a major requirement in rhino’s daily life, so wallow holes / water depletion would force the rhinos to find alternative sites for wallowing.  Is this an example of climate impact on rhino’s habitat?  No one can know for sure, but climate modeling and prediction calculated by a team from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) showed a tendency of drier climate in Ujung Kulon National Park for the next ten years.  Drier climate would mean more severe water and wallow holes depletions in the Javan rhino habitat, and consequently we could predict higher occurrences of such “communal” wallowing.  Therefore, this behavior can potentially be used as an indicator of climate change impact on the behavior of the rhinos.

Rhino Population Survey 2010

In April 2010, the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) within Indonesian Ministry of Forestry received 75 Bushnell Video traps as a donation from the Aspinall Foundation.  Fifty of these were sent to Ujung Kulon National Park to complement existing video traps made available through support from the Asian Rhino Project (ARP) and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF). The Rhino survey in 2010 was the first attempt to use video cameras (60) for official estimates of Javan rhino populations, after more than twenty years of using the footprint/track count method.  Unlike the footprint count, relying on transects to collect the data, the video trap survey used 1 km2 grids for each camera location.

The numbers of cameras were determined according to the levels of rhino density in each area, i.e. areas with lower densities of rhino presence received fewer video traps than the medium and high density areas.  Each of the thirteen teams was assigned trips to install and to retrieve the video traps from the field.

Unexpected findings

During the trip to install the video traps, one unit encountered the skeleton of a dead rhinoceros in one of the northern grids (Nyiur block).  Based on the condition of the skeleton, it was estimated that the demise of this adult male rhino occurred approximately three months before the finding.  The position of the skeleton suggested that this male rhino had not died as a result of poaching, but also that the death may not have been due to old age.  Based on all facts from the site, some possible causes of death were compiled.  To everyone’s surprise, a second skeleton of an adult male rhino was found in one of the southern grids (Cikeusik block).Since the southern grids (including the Cikeusik block) contain the highest density of rhino populations, a thorough investigation was needed to determine the cause of death in order to prevent more deaths in this key rhino population area.

A part of the investigation was the use of previous video trap data to track the video clips containing the animals prior to their deaths.  Some video clips show mildly skinny individuals (with prominent ribs), and two rhinos showing excess salivation or hypersalivation.  These types of observations allow the use of video trap surveys to be extended for detecting clinical signs for assessing the health of rhinoceros within the population.

Non-invasive population genetic monitoring of Indian Rhinoceros in Assam 08/09

The Indian rhinoceros is the most abundant among the three Asian rhinoceros species that exists today. The mega conservation success story of this species, such as Kaziranga National Park of Assam also raises doubt towards the genetic consequences towards the large population of more than 2500 individuals that exists today in the wild, which descends from only a few individuals in the early twentieth century.

DNA from faecal samples have been used for population genetic monitoring of species like elephant and tiger. However, no attempt has so far been made towards using dung as a source of DNA for population monitoring of Indian rhinoceros in India. Work has only been done from the blood samples of wild caught or captive rhinos from various zoos in India (Ali et al. 1999; Kapur et al. 2003). Physical capturing of animals for genetic samples is not practically possible for a large scale population study.  Therefore, this project was undertaken in order to study the potential use of dung as a non-invasive source of population monitoring of Indian rhinoceros in India and to optimize various molecular markers in use.

Dung sampling was carried out from Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary of Assam. Fresh rhino dung samples (n=39) were collected from the localities of known individual rhinos.

In order to obtain good quality DNA from dung samples, Aaranyak have evaluated three different dung preservation and two DNA extraction methodologies, and the comparative success of each of these methodologies. Three different storage methodologies were followed for each sample collected. DNA extraction from rhino dung was performed with two different methodologies.

The team has successfully developed a multiplex PCR based marker system for gender identification of rhinoceros from dung DNA samples. Using this marker system, gender identity of DNA samples from rhinoceros dung (n=24) could be obtained with 75% success.

For individual identification of rhinoceros from dung DNA samples, they have successfully optimized PCR conditions for 10 polymorphic microsatellite markers developed from Indian rhinoceros (Zchokke et al. 2003) to get amplification from dung DNA samples. So far, the team has obtained a PCR success of 80-95% for all the 10 loci tested on 39 dung samples (19 from KNP, 10 from ONP and 10 from PWLS).

Aaranyak plan to use non-invasive genetic analysis of Indian rhinoceros to evaluate the extent of genetic diversity and population differentiation in genetic markers across the existing habitats in Assam.

Floating Anti-Poaching Camp Support - Kaziranga NP 08/09

The Rhino Foundation for nature in NE India is providing a floating anti-poaching camp to Kaziranga NP in Assam to patrol the river areas. The park is the most important habitat for the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros in the world. For the endangered Asian elephants, Kaziranga supports a very large population, which often exceeds a thousand animals. This makes the park and its adjacent forest habitat a vital area for the long-term survival of these pachyderms. The northern boundary of the park is marked by the Brahmaputra River, the fourth largest river in the world according to its annual flow.  Although Kaziranga is among the well guarded protected areas of India, poaching of different species is still going on although in a reduced number.

Thus there is urgent need for the protection of the riverine tract. Floating anti-poaching camps on large boats seem to be the only answer in such terrain. The riverine areas are used by poachers as movement route, escape route as well as temporary shelter. The objective of this project envisages provision of one floating anti-poaching camp on boat with the goal of protection of the park and its endangered species including the Asian elephant and rhinoceros. Subsequently, one more camp would be provided.

This project is supported by US FWS. However, there was no provision for generator (due to oversight) which is essential part of such a camp. ARP funded the generator to the value of $1,000USD.

Spatial modeling and preparation of decision support system for conservation of biological diversity in Orang National Park, Assam, India 08/09

ARP committed $7,000USD to funding this important project. The following is snippets from Pranjit Kumar Sarma, M.Sc of Aaranyak’s proposal.

The Orang National Park with an area of 78.8 km2 is situated in the Brahmaputra flood plain of the Darrang District of Assam, India. Orang National Park is quite rich regarding its biodiversity. The key mammals that are available in this park are Greater Indian One Horned Rhino, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Pigmy Hog, and Barking Deer. The Orang National Park is one of the last strongholds of the Indian Rhino in the world with a total population of 68 rhinos in the year 2006 as estimated by the state forest department of Assam. Hence, a proper scientific approach to conserve and properly manage this rich biodiversity area is an utmost necessity.

But to date comprehensive scientific research in this park has not been initiated to manage the wildlife habitat as well as the resources available within the park scientifically based on sound information base. Similarly a systematic database on the resources available, habitat pattern and habitat utilization by different species within the park is not available with the managers for proper management of the park. The proposed project intends to study the habitat patterns and their utilization by different species, niche overlap of habitat by herbivores and carnivores, available in the park and also create a comprehensive geo-spatial technology based database for the entire park area to assist managers to manage the national park based on sound information base and applied science.

The project began on 1 March 2009 and the progress to date is as follows:

· Establishment of field station - A field station has been established in collaboration with the state forest department inside the Orang National Park for collection and analysis of data. A computer has been procured and already installed in the field station. The field station has all the logistic facilities for four personnel.

·Recruitment of field staff - one field assistant has been recruited for data collection. He will be based at the field station in Orang National Park during the whole project period.

·Boundary demarcation - In regards to the generation of the GIS database, the boundary of the park has already been demarcated and digitized using proper global coordinate system. Assistance has been taken from the project adviser Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar and Mr. Jayanta Deka, Range Officer, Orang National Park for collection of GPS points and ground control points (GCPs). Satellite imagery (IRS P6 LISS IV) of the study area has already been ordered from National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad and by the first week of May it will reach Aaranyak.

·Preparation of Road Map - The road map of Orang National Park is progressing. Hopefully it will be completed by May, 2009.

Taronga Foundation Field Conservation Grants - "Rapid Action Initiatives to strengthen anti-poaching measures in and around rhino bearing areas in Assam" 08/09 & 09/10

In October 2008 the Asian Rhino Project was granted $10,000AUD from the Taronga Conservation Society Australiato assist anti-poaching efforts with our Indian partners at Aaranyak. The project "Rapid Action Initiatives to strengthen anti-poaching measures in and around rhino bearing areas in Assam" could not have come at a better time with at least 7 rhino wandering outside Kaziranga NP into agricultural lands between 28th December and 24th Jan. The straying rhino injured one and killed 2 people. One of the rhino had to be rescued from a ditch where it had become stuck in mud and sadly at least one rhino was poached. This kind of human/rhino conflict is not only devastating to the individuals involved but also for the plight and continued conservation of the species.

The anti-poaching project began in January 2009. The project focused on local community involvement in monitoring areas outside the National Park. Two motor motorbikes were purchased to assist the forest staff to enhance the protection of rhinos outside the Kaziranga NP. Ten binoculars were put into service to monitor the rhino straying outside the park and field gears such as small 4-6 men tents, rucksacks with torch lights, rain coats and jackets were also handed over to make the effort to protect and monitor the stray rhinos outside the park more effective.

A set of three groups of forest squad comprising  4-6 persons in each group were specifically trained to chase the strayed rhino back into the park. One Speed Boat engine was also sponsored through the Central Government for this project to further strengthen the river front monitoring in northern boundary of Kaziranga both with regards to stray rhino and movement of poachers. Funds allocated for the speed boat were re-allocated to a community awareness program during the winter months (November 2009 until March 2010) to further strengthen the second line of defence to ensure better protection to strayed rhinos.

In 2009 poaching incidences decreased by approximately 50% outside KNP compared to the 2008 figures. However in 2009 only 3 poached outside the park. During this period of our project implementation, two primary rhino poachers were arrested outside the KNP. These two poachers have been involved in more than 40% of rhino poaching incidences outside KNP in south east area. In Feb-March 2009 at least four rhinos strayed out in this area and all of them three were returned safe. However there was one poaching case during that period Feb-Mar 2009.

An amount earmarked for One Speed Boat Engine budgeted at $3500 could not be processed as the Kaziranga NP received additional funding from the Government to buy the equipment. As such we proposed in October 2009 that the remaining funds be used towards community orientation towards rhino conservation.

Accordingly one community orientation camp was organized for school children of fringe areas around Kaziranga National Park (KNP) at campus of Western Range, Bagori on the other hand another one was organized in North East Region Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institute (NERFMTTI) campus near Northern Range, Biswanath Ghat of Kaziranga National Park.

About 90 school students were provided intense orientation. Eminent conservation experts, senior officials Kaziranga National Park interacted with the children in both the camp.

The children were engaged in various environment related activities everyday throughout the camp under the guidance of Bibhuti P Lahkar, Firoz Ahmed, Soumen Dey, Namita Brahma and Jayanta Kr Pathak of Aaranyak and Uttam Saikia of Bhumi. The children participants also staged five dramas that focused on conservation of environment and various species.

A detail audio-visual presentation on the KNP presented by the Divisional Forest Officer Dibyadhar Gogoi covering conservation initiatives, floral and faunal resources, management and flood time emergency response was instrumental in educating the children on various aspects of the magnificent rhino abode. More audio-visual presentations were made on different topics by other resource persons working on different subjects.

Children were provided with stories and scripts of five dramas with conservation messages by the organizers for staging plays in five different groups. The children had prepared and staged those plays with their own efforts in both the camps.

An interesting interaction session with a panel of experts on different conservation topics was organized where students participated actively.

Kaziranga National Park (KNP) is one of the most important protected areas in India. Spread over an area of 860 Sq. Km. in the flood plains of the river Brahmaputra, it harbors the World’s largest population of one horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and the swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli ranjitsinghi). Its conservation value was much recognized when it become one of the Natural World Heritage Sites notified in India by UNESCO in the year 1985. Although the Kaziranga World Heritage Site has been recognized as century’s greatest conservation success story in India, in-terms of protecting wildlife, however community participation is still lacking and which resulted in killing of more than dozen of rhinos and elephants every year. Considering the complexity of Kaziranga landscape, current elephant status and level of conflict, this Nature Orientation Initiative is organized at Kaziranga to create awareness and involve the local community in conservation.

Activities:

The orientation activities started on 31st January 2010 at around 11 am with the registration of all the participants. After that each student had to go through a medical check up where free medicines were also provided to the students after the check up.

The camp was formally inaugurated by Sri Sambhu Saikia, an eminent retired local teacher in presence of Sri S. N. Buragohain, Director, KNP and Sri D. D. Gogoi, Divisional Forest Officer, KNP. After the inauguration, students were formally introduced to each other through an ice-breaking session. During the three day residential camp, children were engaged in various environment related activities everyday throughout the camp under the guidance of Bibhuti P Lahkar, Firoz Ahmed, Namita Brahma and Jayanta Kr Pathak of Aaranyak and Uttam Saikia of Bhumi.

A detail audio-visual presentation on the KNP prepared by the Divisional Forest Officer Mr. Dibyadhar Gogoi covering conservation initiatives, floral and faunal resources, management and flood time emergency response was instrumental in educating the children on various aspects of the magnificent rhino abode.

A young and budding herpetologist Joydeep Mondal entertained the participants with his scintillating presentation on "Reptiles of North-East India". Mr. Robin Sarma, research officer KNP, a nice presentation of "Mammals of the world". Last but not the least Mr. Somen Dey of WWF interacted and played some EE games with the students.

On each morning the participants field activities like Nature trail and Jeep Safari. In the first morning on 1st of February 2010, children were taken for a Natural Trail to Kukurakata Reserve Forest adjacent to KNP. During this trail participants saw capped Langurs and Hoolock Gibbon for first the time ever in their life. In the next morning on 2nd February 2010, children enjoyed the beauty inside KNP in Jeep safari. The Jeep Safari was also very special for student participants as some of them had seen the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros for first time.

Since it was a World Wetland Day, we also observed it with the children on the bank of Dunga Beel inside KNP. The Range officer of Baguri range was present during the programme and he addressed the students about "Importance of wetlands in our ecosystem in general and Kaziranga in particular". In addition, Firoz Ahmed a biologist of Aaranyak briefed about the "World Wetland Day and why it is observed". Dr. Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar also a biologist of Aaranyak had described "What do we mean by wetlands and its value". Finally we ended up with bird watching activity from the tower adjacent to Dunga beel. Students were provided with binoculars and a spotting scope and were fortunate to see large number of migratory water fowls and other birds. The bird watching programme was volunteered by Namita Brahma, Jayanta Kumar Pathak and Joydeep Mondal of Aaranyak.

On the evening of 2nd February 2010, the children played four dramas that focused on conservation issues of environment and various species. The story and script was provided by organizers and children prepared themselves and acted superbly.

After the drama performance an interaction with a panel of experts on different conservation topics was organized where students participated actively with many interesting question. In addition, a number of Environment Education games were conducted among the students.

After the drama, certificates were distributed among the participants by Sri D. D. Gogoi, Divisional Forest Officer of KNP, Mr. P. Kalita, Range Officer of Bagori Range of KNP, Dr. Bibhab Kr. Talukdar, Secretary General, Aaranyak, Anupam Sarma & Pranab Bora, WWF – India. On the evening of 2nd February the camp formally came to an end with a camp fire were children entertained everyone with poetry, song and dance.

Increasing enforcement within Cat Loc - Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam - for the protection of Javan Rhinoceros and other globally Threatened species 08/09 & 09/10

Cat Loc of Cat Tien National Park, is home to several species of globally threatened mammals, including the Buff-cheeked Gibbon, Gaur, Sun Bear and most significantly, the Javan Rhinoceros. The Javan Rhino is classified as Critically Endangered with only two remaining populations representing distinct subspecies in Java and Vietnam, and numbering less than 70 individuals in total. The Vietnamese subspecies is considerably more imperilled with probably less than 8 individuals restricted to sub-optimal habitat in a sector of Cat Tien National Park. This population is under constant pressure from surrounding human settlements and its long-term future at this site is in question, given the current lack of political will to undertake adequate measures to ensure its protection.

There is an urgent need to assess the status of this population to determine appropriate conservation action and motivate the government to support these measures, and also to increase current enforcement efforts to ensure the rhino is adequately protected.

WWF Vietnam forwarded a request from ARP to support improved enforcement measures for one year whilst the status of the population is assessed, and appropriate future conservation efforts determined. ARP is proud to support this project and has awarded the full request of $11,200AUD.

Eight local community members of Cat Loc, Cat Tien National Park, have joined the Forest Protection Department conducting the first joint enforcement patrol into the rhino’s core habitat thanks to ARP funding. These protection units removed nearly 300 snares from Cat Loc, in the first 3 months. The majority of the snares were placed in "traplines" targeting animals such as Muntjac, Wild Pig and Pheasants but more than 30 of these snares were of large size, capable of trapping animals like Rhino, Gaur and Bear. All snares were removed from the forest and destroyed along with three hunters’ camps found by the rangers.

An enforcement consultant was also sent to the park, to provide training for the rangers in GIS use, data collection and snare removal methodology as well as to supervise patrolling in the field. This was a great success, with far greater patrolling effort and coverage achieved.

A rhino survey was conducted by WWF at the same time as the snare removal program which helped to determine the level of threat to wildlife within Cat Loc. Even more long lines of snares were found in some locations within the core zone, with animal remains in some. In addition to this, large snares were fairly frequently found strategically positioned along large animal trails, including a trail leading to a wallow used predominantly by rhino. Hunting camps were encountered on each visit to some of the wallow and swamp areas, where animals visit more frequently during the dry season.

In late April 2010, local villagers found the skeleton of a large mammal when in the forest harvesting seasonal nuts. They reported this to a friend who called the Forest Protection Department, who went to the site to retrieve the remains. Theskeleton was confirmed as a rhino, a bullet was found in the lower leg and the horn had been forcibly removed, pointing to poaching being the culprit. WWF are working with the authorities to ensure that a full criminal investigation is undertaken, to try to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Another major concern is a power station being planned for the areas surrounding the rhino habitat.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020 – Securing Indian Rhino in Assam Through translocations International Rhino Foundation Report 09/10

Poaching pressure remains high within India and Nepal. In 2008, 26 rhinos died at the hands of poachers in Assam, and at least eight were poached in Nepal, where populations are highly fragmented and difficult to protect. In 2009, at least 17 rhinos were poached in India and Nepal. These events occurred mostly during the rainy season when animals were forced to leave their normal ranges for non-flooded areas.

In April 2008, as part of Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020), a partnership among Assam Forest Department; ARP’s Partner, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF); WWF-India and other NGOs, the much anticipated translocations of Indian rhinos commenced with the movement of two males from Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Manas National Park in Assam. The IRV 2020 goal is to "increase the total rhino population in Assam from present numbers to 3,000 by 2020, and to ensure that these rhinos are distributed over at least seven protected areas to provide long-term viability of an Assam metapopulation."

The first translocation has produced initial positive results, and will be followed by the translocation of more animals to Manas very soon, as all necessary government clearances have been obtained to import the necessary immobilization drugs. Tentative plans are in place to translocate up to 18 greater one-horned rhinos from Kaziranga National Park and Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Manas National Park in March/April 2010. Along with partners from Taronga Zoo, Clare Campbell, ARP’s Vice Chairman travelled to India in February to meet with partners to review the translocation plans and to visit the project sites.

Currently, more that 85% of the Indian rhino population inhabits one protected national park, Kaziranga, exposing the population to the risk that a single catastrophe such as a flood or disease outbreak could again lead to serious population decline. The expansion of their distribution will reduce stochastic risks and reduce the population pressures in any single habitat by ensuring a better distribution of rhinos over suitable ranges. This is essential for the species’ metapopulation management and long-term survival.

The expected conservation output of this project will be the successful establishment of an Indian rhino population in Manas National Park. Rhinos once flourished here, but were wiped out due to heavy poaching pressures in the past.  (Due to enhanced security measures and strong local support, the park is once again safe for rhinos.)

Rhino selection for translocation is based on age, sex, health and other variables as laid out in the Translocation Protocol for Indian Rhinos, which is based on successful translocations carried out in Nepal between 1986 and 2003.

Getting a rhino ready for translocation is no easy feat, and it must be carried out in a way that provides maximum safety for the animals as well as the people involved.  Rhino translocations were delayed this year because of difficulties in importing the highly-controlled tranquilisation drug of choice, etorphine.

Nevertheless, we are still making progress!  Last year, one of the male rhinos previously translocated to Manas National Park wandered outside of the park for more than 2 weeks, travelling more than 60 km before he could be safely immobilized and returned to the park.  As a result, IRF, and Save the Rhino funded construction of an 8-km (about 5-mile) electric fence along the southern boundary of the park to keep the rhinos in.  As a side benefit, the fence also protects local communities from elephants that previously raided their crops, reducing incidents of human-elephant conflict and increasing farmers’ incomes.  The hope is to eventually provide another 8-10 km of fencing so that all communities along the Manas National Park border can benefit.  

Over the past year, the team has continued to successfully protect and monitor the two rhinos translocated into the park in 2008, and to prepare for the additional rhinos that will soon arrive.  The program has hired 50 "Home Guards" to monitor and protect the translocated rhinos and other wildlife in Manas NP. Guards are recruited from local fringe villages and are trained by the Assam Forest Department on wildlife conservation and combating poaching. Home guards are on patrol 24 hours a day; units alternate patrols in three-hour blocks.  They patrol all areas of the park, either on foot, or using bicycles, cars, elephants and boat as necessary.  Patrols are heavily concentrated along the southern boundary of the park, which is the direct contact zone with the fringe villages.  The home guards keep daily field records and assist the park authorities in conducting the wildlife census.

The program also conducted enforcement training for 20 frontline park staff from Manas NP. The curriculum included: basic first aid, basic navigation, weapon handling, patrolling operations, hostile engagement, arresting securing and searching suspects, and basic laws.

After months of hard work, negotiations and eventual appeals to the Prime Minister of India and the Central Minister for Environment and Forests, the 2020 team was finally able to get all the required permits and certifications in place to import etorphine from South Africa for the translocations.  Unfortunately though, the rainy season began early this year, and the unusually heavy flooding and monsoons have made it too dangerous to translocate rhinos at this time.  

In addition to training more than 150 community members as guards and monitors, the IRV 2020 team has coordinated with the local political and civil leadership to organize public meetings and other activities to cultivate community involvement in and support for the rhino conservation program.  There has been a long history of conflict between wildlife and people in Assam.  To cultivate public support in favour of rhino conservation in particular and wildlife conservation in general, the IRV 2020 team has employed a two-pronged strategy of providing local employment and training, combined with regular public meetings and communications, to build an atmosphere that favours conservation in and around Manas National Park.  At least three large meetings per year are held with local parties, including the Bodo Territorial Council, to continue to engender support for IRV 2020.  Additionally, local community members are hired for any employment opportunities that arise, including construction of the fence along the southern border of the park.

 

Links to Annual Reports

Below are links to our Annual reports outlining past projects supported by the Asian Rhino Project and the outcomes. 

·                     2004/2005

·                     2005/2006

·                     2006/2007

·                     2007/2008

·                     2008/2009

·                     2009/2010