New Delhi, Sep 22 (PTI) Timely efforts by the Centre and states and stringent protection measures have revived the rhinoceros population in the country, Union Minister Babul Supriyo said on Tuesday, asserting that India was in the 'right direction for a better future for the iconic' species.
During a virtual celebration on the occasion of World Rhino Day, he spoke about the population of greater Greater One-horned Rhinoceros which reached to the brink of extinction by the end of the 20th century with fewer than 200 animals in wild.
India has more than 2,500 rhinoceros, according to official figures.
Supriyo congratulated the frontline forest staff and officials and expressed his gratitude towards them for working tirelessly to save rhinos, and said India has been successfully saving its rhinos.
'Today, approximately 75 per cent of the entire population of Greater One-horned Rhinoceros now occurs in India in Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Rhino census is undertaken by the state governments periodically,' the minister said.
World Rhino Day is celebrated every year on September 22 to emphasize the importance of conservation of Rhinoceros and its habitats.
Senior officials of the ministry, state forest departments and other organizations such as Central Zoo Authority, WWF-India, Aaranayak, UNDP and others also attended the event.
Supriyo also thanked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for accepting the Central Zoo Authority's request towards translocation of an alpha male rhino from Patna zoo to Delhi zoo.
'Efforts are going on in the country to protect the existing rhino population and also to increase the distribution of the species through the Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme.
'Success was achieved in restocking the rhino population in the World Heritage Site of Manas National Park recently through wild to wild translocations. One-horned rhinoceros is one of the 21 species identified for a recovery programme for critically endangered species,' the environment ministry said in a statement.
The ministry has also launched the 'National Conservation Strategy for the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros' to repopulate rhino population in those areas which used to hold the species earlier by augmenting and strengthening existing conservation efforts through scientific and administrative measures.
The ministry and the State Forest Departments of the Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal with support from other organizations are taking appropriate steps under the 'New Delhi Declaration'.
The declaration was signed after the Second Asian Rhino Range States Conservation meeting held on 26th-28th February last year in New Delhi wherein representatives from Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal attended the meeting besides India, the ministry said. PTI AG NSD