It’s been a couple of weeks since the floodwaters receded this year and a year since Kaziranga National Park was inundated by the worst floods to have hit Assam in over a decade. Among the 100 plus wild animal emergencies that the IFAW-Wildlife Trust of India run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) and its Mobile Veterinary Service units attended during the floods last year, were eight orphaned rhino calves that were rescued and brought to the centre to be hand-raised.
The simultaneous long-term care of eight rhinos in addition to another older calf has been a massive challenge for the team at CWRC. In addition to the efforts of the centre’s animal keepers and veterinarians, the tremendous support received from people from all walks of life has been critical.
“The rescued rhino calves evoked such sentiments that a group of children from a remote school had given up a mid-day meal to buy milk formula for the rhino calves,” says Dr Rathin Barman, Joint Director, CWRC. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of Assam and all well-wishers for their support and encouragement over the past year.”
When the rhino calves were first brought to CWRC they were stabilised at the centre’s Large Animal Nursery. Once they had recovered from their flood-related trauma and injuries they were shifted to a small outdoor paddock attached to the nursery. Gradually, having acclimatised to the outdoors, they were introduced to three larger paddocks with a natural stream running through them. This allowed the calves to wallow and play – an important part of their natural developmental behaviour.
“The calves have grown fast” says Dr Panjit Basumatary, the lead veterinarian at CWRC. “Importantly, they’ve experienced all four seasons now, in an approximation of their natural habitat. It was touching to see how the younger calves huddled close to the older ones at night to keep warm during the winter, as they would have with their mothers. Now, as they play in the mud, enjoy the rain or nap together as they would in their natural environment, we feel a sense of satisfaction that they are making good progress towards a life in the wild.”
The IFAW-WTI rescue centre currently has ten rhino calves under care. The eight calves rescued last year had already bonded with an older calf that was rescued in 2015. Another four-to-six month old calf displaced by the monsoon floods was rescued from Burhapahar and brought to the centre earlier this month.
Article source: IFAW