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Raja (shown left) and Maju moved in March to their new permanent home in Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northeast India.
Successfully raised in captivity and then returned to the wild, the two one-horned rhinoceros are part of a crucial repopulation program in Manas. The park lost its a majority of its rhino population to poachers. With new forest rangers trained to protect the animals and other measures to combat poaching, rhinos are once again being introduced into the area.
The project has been supported by the International Fund For Animal Welfare (ifaw.org), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Assam Forest Department (AFD), and Bodoland Territorial Council.
Maju and Raja were originally found in the Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage site that hosts more than 70 percent of the world’s greater one-horned rhino population.
In 2009, Maju was orphaned when his mother charged a team of researchers and had to be killed in self defense by forest guards. Raja was found alone in January 2008, dehydrated and weak, and the fate of his mother is unknown.
Today, the pair of male rhinos join other rhinos being released into Manas through wild-to-wild relocations from Kaziranga NP and Pobitora WLS national parks in Assam.
Photo of Raja courtesy of IFAW