I greatly appreciate the decision of the West Bengal State Government in expanding the rhino habitat beyond the Jaldapara and Gorumara sanctuaries to other adjoining suitable habitats in North Bengal. This is a monumental decision with respect to successful conservation effort having long term future implications. Every natural habitat has its own carrying capacity and overcrowding of a specific habitat with an extremely precious and endangered species like the majestic one-horned Indian rhinoceros is nothing but a suicide from a modern wildlife conservation view point. Any natural catastrophe like an earthquake or a devastating wild fire or cataclysmic flood or an infectious disease can wipe out existing sub-populations of an endangered species in a crowded habitat and hence spreading of different sub-populations to adjoining or distant suitable habitats is essential for the stability of the genetics as well as health and ecology of key stone species. I sincerely believe that other states in India will also follow this major and progressive decision made by the West Bengal Government in successfully protecting rare species of wildlife.
The grave mistake of the Assam government in north-east India in concentrating a substantial rhino population at the Kajiranga or by the Gujarat government in maintaining huge population of rare Indian lions at the Gir sanctuary in western India; for simple political reasons in unjustified and completely unscientific. Any major catastrophe or disease outbreak can completely wipe out such rare species and threaten their virtual existence in the future unless suitable an alternative habitats are identified, prepared and overcrowding in current single habitats are reduced. The high concentration of the rare species also makes it easy for highly organized poaching units and wildlife traffickers to kill or capture their targets easily and make their successful management by the forestry staff challenging. With this decision of expanding habitat, the West Bengal as the first model state in successful implication modern conservation biology practices.
Saikat Kumar Basu