Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), Apr 9 (PTI) Thirty-four years after the successful rehabilitation of one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Dudhwa National Park, the park is ready to populate another rhino rehabilitation area (RRA) tomorrow.

Incidentally, the first rhino rehabilitation programme in the park, located in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, was initiated 33 years ago in April 1984, and the second is also taking place in the same month, forest officials said.

The only difference: the first rehabilitation was carried out with five rhinos from Assam, while the current one is being done on its own.

“Four rhinos from the existing 33-member Dudhwa rhino family in Sonaripur range will be shifted to Bhadi Tal area tomorrow and on Wednesday in two phases,” Dudhwa deputy director Mahavir Kaujlagi said.

It would be done under supervision by rhino experts from Assam led by KK Sharma, Assam Veterinary College head of department; Dudhwa director Sunil Chaudhary and Mudit Gupta, the in-charge of World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Terai Arc landscape, said Kaujlagi, who is also among the supervising team.

Sharma’s team and former chief wildlife warden Bishan Singh Bonal has arrived in Dudhwa to monitor the shifting of rhinos, which is a very delicate process, the deputy director informed.

Today, the team would train the field officials engaged in the relocation programme. The shifting would take place from tomorrow, Kaujlagi said, adding that tranquilising drug Etorphine had been procured from South Africa.

Need for an alternate home for Dudhwa rhinos was felt long ago, when the rhino family grew to nearly three dozen in the specially-fenced area of 27 square kilometres in Sonaripur range, Dudhwa.

The chief reason behind the alternate rhino area was to accommodate the growing rhino population, which often resulted in infighting among the inmates.

The park officials’ search ended on Bhadi Tal area, which was identical to Sonaripur RRA in terms of rhino habitat with adequate grassland, water bodies and environment.

Park authorities developed the 13.5 sq. km area, fenced it and arranged proper infrastructure. The area was ready to receive its new entrants a few years back. However, owing to some reason, the programme had to be postponed.

Major hindrance was lack of tranquilising drug, which was unavailable in India and its procurement from South Africa was a long process.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.