WHO-India launched Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme to protect and increase the population of the one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis).
This ambitious project, called the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020), was launched in 2005 in response to the declining population of rhinos in Assam.
IVR 2020 is a partnership among the Government of Assam, the International Rhino Foundation, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Bodoland Territorial Council, and the U.S. Fish & World Wildlife foundation.
Its main aim was to attain a population of 3,000 wild one-horned rhinos in seven of Assam’s protected areas by the year 2020.
Procedure to protect & increase the population of Rhinos: The horns of rhinos will be trimmed before their translocation to Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaon district of the state. The trimming will be done in a way that any damage is not done to their internal organs and the trimmed horns will grow back to their original shape within four to five months. This action of trimming will also protect them from the poachers, who hunt them just to take away their horns.
Rhinos are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. To achieve the targeted number, the programme needs an increase by 600 over the existing population available in the state in next 8 years. It means an annual increase of about 3 %.
Manas National Park was the first to receive translocated rhinos. The animals appeared to adapt well to their new home, but poachers repeatedly struck the park. The program then turned to Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuary, but the rhinos moved there grew sick and died.
By the late 1990s, poachers had wiped out hundreds of rhinos across the state. More than 90 percent of Assam’s rhinos were now concentrated in just one park — Kaziranga National Park— with small populations in Orang National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. This was worrying.
With the distribution of rhinos limited to a handful of protected areas, the species was at heightened risk of being decimated by threats like diseases, natural disasters or poaching.
One of the biggest challenges turned out to be the difficulty in obtaining etorphine — a major component of the tranquilizing drug used to sedate large wild animals like rhinos and elephants.
Etorphine, an opioid that is about 1,000 times as potent as morphine, is classified as a Schedule I narcotic drug in India. This means that its import, export, manufacture, sale, storage or distribution is illegal.
Conservationists still believe the overarching goal of boosting the state’s rhino population to 3,000 by 2020 is achievable.