Lakhimpur Kheri (UP), Apr 11 (PTI) Thirty-four years after the successful rehabilitation of one-horned Indian rhinoceros in Dudhwa National Park, a female rhino was shifted to a new area in the park, officials said today.

The female one-horned Indian rhinoceros was shifted from Sonaripur range of the national park to Bhadi Tal in Belrayan range of the park on Tuesday. Three more rhinos are likely to be shifted today.

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

The need for an alternate home for the animals in Dudhwa 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 growing rhino population often resulted in infighting among the animals there.

Deputy director of Dudhwa Mahavir Kaujlagi said, “On Tuesday, authorities successfully shifted a female rhino to its new alternate rhino enclosure. Three more rhinos, including a male, are likely to be shifted today.” Field director Sunil Chaudhary along with Kaujlagi and other park officials were present to monitor the programme.

“It was a highly delicate and sensitive operation. We were able to shift only one female rhino to its new home. History has been written in Dudhwa and we are glad to be a part of it,” Kaujlagi told PTI.

The officials engaged in rhino shifting operation picked up the identified rhino in existing rhino rehabilitation area (RRA). The animal was tranquilised and carried to Bhadi Tal in a cage under minute supervision of the rhino experts.

The officials had a big sigh of relief when the tranquilsed rhino came to its senses at right time and shifted to its new home smoothly.

The Bhadi Tal 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.