By Taniya Dutta
This is the adorable moment villagers in India have adopted a baby rhino that was stranded after flood hit world-renowned Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary and forced animals to move to high-lands.
The calf was first spotted in the tea gardens of Hatikhuli near the sanctuary- known to be the only natural habit to two-thirds of the world’s endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, in the oil-rich state of Assam.
It was severely dehydrated and looking for food after the incessant rain lashed the sanctuary earlier in the month.
After villagers spotted it, they brought the calf to the village where it is being looked after by excited children.
“We called the veterinarians to look at the rhino baby. It was dehydrated and tired with no food and the long walk it had to make to save its life from the water,” said one of the rescuers.
The humble villagers are letting the rhino move freely, letting him to graze at their fields, while children take turns to clean and bathe the wild animal that are potentially very dangerous but normally are pacifists.
“It seems he is enjoying with us. We are trying every bit to give him food and care so his health improves. But we are worried if he does not go away once the flood water recedes,” said another villager.
However, sadly, not all animals are as lucky as this rhino baby.
At least 107 animals including seven rhinos from the national park have lost their lives since the July 5 flood.
A report by the forest officials said 63 hog deer, five swamp deer, a leopard, two buffaloes and two porcupines, died of drowning, 13 were hit by vehicles on NH37 while crossing the highway to go to the nearby Karbi hills in search of higher ground.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had visited the heritage site in a jeep safari during their first visit to India in April last year. The royal couple had been seen escorted by security vehicles and clicking pictures with elephant calves.
But the wildlife in the park has been facing a major crisis this year as 50% of its area has been inundated in the deluge after burgeoning Brahmaputra river and its tributaries burst their banks.