Amid the stories about poaching and the dire state of a species, every so often a glimmer of hope comes along.
Look to Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northeast India, where earlier this month, the first rhino calf born in three years arrived.
A female rhino named Jamuna, who herself is a rescue animal, has been spotted with a baby. Both appear to be doing well.
“It’s a matter of jubilation for us because since 2014 there was no rhino birth in Manas until Jamuna did it again. The mother and calf are doing well, and we are keeping close watch on them,” said MNP field director, HK Sarma, in a statement posted on Facebook.
Her baby is also adorable.
In 2004, Jamuna was rescued by the forest department and volunteers of Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation from flooded Kaziranga National Park in India.
She was rehabilitated and moved to Manas almost a decade ago. She last gave birth to a calf in 2014.
Now, there are 29 rhinos, including this newborn, at Manas.
They are the legacy of a reintroduction project after poachers wiped out some 100 rhinos from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Still, poaching does continue at the park. The international Animal Rescue Foundation India says at least 10 rhinos there have been lost to the illegal wildlife trade sine 2011.
“While gestation period of rhinos is quite long, poaching also had its affect. Most of the matured bulls were killed by poachers,” Sarma explained. “Now there are three male rhinos and with increased protection measures, we are hopeful of more births this year.”
This is a good sign.
“This birth is significant, and shows so much promise for this population of rhinos in Assam,” said Nilanga Jayasinghe, senior program officer with the World Wildlife Fund’s wildlife conservation team. “Greater one-horned rhinos are one of Asia’s great conservation success stories, and each new calf adds to the upward trajectory of a rhino population that was once down to about 200 individuals at the turn of the 20th century.”
At least seven more rescued rhinos are expected to wind up at Manas, according to officials.