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Bringing back Manas: The rhino that started it all gives birth

Manas, June 2, 2013: Mainao - the first rhino to walk Manas National Park kickstarting the crucial reintroduction in 2006 - has given birth to a healthy calf. Early this morning, the mother and calf were sighted at the Rupahi Camp in Bhuyanpara range of Manas NP. Mainao was rescued from the floods in Kaziranga in 2002 and hand-raised by the Assam Forest Department and International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park. She was first sighted stuck on a forked branch of a tree stump by forest staff on patrol, and was rescued on July 28, 2002. She was just a few weeks old then and was admitted to CWRC for rehabilitation. Over the next four years, she was hand-raised by the IFAW-WTI team at CWRC, and eventually moved to Manas in 2006, amid much celebration.

Mainao and her new calf were seen in a river in Rupahi, Assam, early on Sunday morning. Photo: Debojit Saikia/IFAW-WTI

Kampa Borgoyari, Deputy Chief – Bodoland Territorial Council, who had named her ‘Mainao’ (meaning  Lakshmi’ in Bodo) as a symbol of hope and prosperity for the region, on hearing the news, said, “This is a remarkable achievement in the history of rhino rehabilitation in Manas. I congratulate the frontline staff and animal keepers, biologists, IFAW-WTI for constant monitoring and ensuring her safety.” “This moment is another step towards bringing back Manas to its former glory,” he added.

“This is great news,” said NK Vasu, current Field Director – Kaziranga, who was also in command during the rescue of Mainao, and also led her translocation to Manas in 2006. “Congratulations to the whole team who made this happen.” Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI and Regional Director – South Asia, IFAW, was ecstatic. “Mainao was the first ever rhino to be hand-reared and rehabilitated in the country, proving that ‘back-to-the-wild’ was a feasible alternative for such displaced rhino calves. History has been made again, as she has given that one proof everyone waits for as a successful culmination to a rehabilitation effort.”

A file photo of Mainao immediately after she was rescued in 2002. Photo: Rathin Barman/IFAW-WTI
Ian Robinson, Director – Emergency Rescue, IFAW, also congratulated the team and wished well for Mainao and her calf on behalf of all IFAW offices.
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