India asks help for baby rhino rescued in floods

2016-08-02 15:57
A rescued three-month-old male rhino calf found in a flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park is fed at an animal nursery in the park in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. (IFAW, WTI, AFP)

A rescued three-month-old male rhino calf found in a flood-affected area of Kaziranga National Park is fed at an animal nursery in the park in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam. (IFAW, WTI, AFP)

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Guwahati - Indian wildlife officers appealed on Tuesday for help in caring for eight rare baby rhino feared orphaned by recent deadly floods in the remote northeast.

Rescue teams in boats have pulled the stranded rhino from floodwaters which have hit India's famed Kaziranga National Park, home to the world's largest population of the one-horned animals.

Rathin Barman, deputy director of the Wildlife Trust of India, said they were now struggling to feed and care for the rhino, aged from one to eight months.

"Some of them are injured and are being treated by our staff in the rescue centre. We are right now hand-raising them, providing them formula milk and essential vitamins," Barman told AFP.

"We will release them only after two years," he added.

"We appeal to the public to donate money for the upkeep of the rescued babies. They drink six packs of milk a day which costs 1 500 rupees (R321) and this will continue for a minimum of one year," he said.

It was unclear whether the calves were left orphaned by the floods or were separated from their mothers as the beasts tried to flee to higher ground.

Seventeen adult rhino along with deer and other animals have been found drowned in Kaziranga, a 430km² protected area of forest in the state of Assam.

"It is sad that we lost about 17 rhino in the floods this time, which is something unprecedented," Assam forest minister Pramilla Rani Brahma told AFP on Tuesday.

The park, home to about 2 500 rhino, draws scores of tourists and was visited by Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate during their official tour of India earlier this year.

Barman said he feared more rhino would need assistance once waters receded in the park, which has been stripped of vegetation by the floods.

The floods that hit the region every year have killed at least 24 people in Assam and left another 2.3 million homeless in recent days, said state flood control minister Keshab Mahanta.

Scores more have been killed in floods and landslides in the state of Bihar and in neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh.

Read more on:    india  |  animals  |  weather

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