Work underway to develop third habitat for rhinos at Patlakhawa forest
Kolkata: The state Forest department has started work for developing the third habitat for rhinoceros at Patlakhawa in North Bengal. The third home for the one-horned rhino is being developed for balancing the rhino population that has increased by leaps and bounds, both at Jaldapara and Gorumara National Park in North Bengal.
"We have recently got the nod from the Union ministry of Environment and Forests for developing the third habitat at Patlakhawa in Cooch Behar district. We will take five years for developing the infrastructure at Patlakhawa, for relocating the rhinos there. The infrastructure includes boundary of the habitat, grassland improvement that includes watch towers, deployment of security staff, construction of staff quarters and training of staff," state Forest minister Binoy Krishna Barman said. The state will be spending Rs 12.5 crore for the project.
It may be mentioned that in 1982-83, there were only 18 rhinos in the two forests. However, as per our last census, the total rhino population is 255. Jaldapara has 200 rhinos while Gorumara has 55.
Experts associated with wildlife will ascertain the actual area that will be developed and the number of rhinos that will be shifted, will be decided in consultation with these experts.
Bengal has the second highest population of rhinoceros after Assam. The state government has been thinking of the relocation for the last few years and the proposal was sent to the Forest ministry, sometime in the end of 2016.
The Patlakhawa forest has a large wetland and was once a game reserve of the Koch dynasty that had ruled Cooch Behar.
"We have proposed to develop another place near the Gorumara National Park, for the fourth habitat of these animals. The Central team has visited the place to check the potential for development of the area," Barman added.