After successful re-introduction of one-horned rhinos 35 years ago, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve authority is going to request Assam to “help” with Asiatic buffaloes.
Two males and three female rhinos were captured in Assam in 1984, and were trans-located to Dudhwa in 1984. After that, rhino population in Dudhwa has grown, and has now reached 34.
Bolstered with the success story of rhino translocation, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve officials are now keen to repopulate the protected jungle with Asiatic buffaloes, also known as wild water buffaloes.
Dudhwa forests used to have a population of wild water buffaloes in the past. But the population became extinct with time because of reasons still not known.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a protected area in Uttar Pradesh stretching across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts. It comprises the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
It covers an area of 1,284.3 sq. km and includes three large forest fragments amidst the matrix dominated by agriculture. It shares the north-eastern boundary with Nepal, which is defined to a large extent by the Mohana River.
The area is a vast alluvial floodplain traversed by numerous rivers and streams flowing in south-easterly direction.
The wild water buffaloes are likely to be introduced in the alluvial floodplain area of the wild habitat.
In 1987, the Dudhwa National Park and the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary were brought under the purview of the ‘Project Tiger’ as Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. The Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary was added in the year 2000.
The initiative to repopulate Dudhwa with Asiatic buffaloes was taken by then field director Ramesh Pandey in 2018.
Officials of Uttar Pradesh forest department have again started to show interest in the project after the Assam government agreed to trans-locate five female Asiatic buffaloes to Jharkhand.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve officials said they would soon be requesting Assam to help with some wild water buffaloes to repopulate the jungles.
While the global population of wild water buffaloes is estimated to be 3,400, more than 3,100 (91 percent) live in India, mostly in Assam.