Guwahati, Oct 7 (IANS) A one-horned rhino which was trapped on a sandbar in Brahmaputra River since Sep 30 was rescued Sunday and will soon be shifted to the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati, an official said.
After spending eight days on the sandbar, Rani Chapori, the rhino was Sunday spotted at the Uparhali area near Palasbari, about 35 km from Assam's main city, Guwahati, and 10 km from the sandbar.
Forest officials believe the animal swam across the river and reached Uparhali from Rani Chapori Sunday.
The rescue team comprising veterinarians, animal rescue experts and forest department officials started operations at Uparhali around 4.30 p.m. Sunday.
The animal was tranquilized and put in a wooden crate before being loading on a truck, to be shifted to the Assam State Zoo. The whole operation took more than three hours, officials said.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, who was present in the area during the operation, hailed the efforts of the rescue team.
"We are happy that the rhino was successfully darted. All credit goes to the rescue team and frontline forest staff, who were engaged with the rhino from the day it was discovered stranded," the minister said.
"As of now we have decided to take the rhino to the zoo after consulting with the experts. The animal has injury marks and it is aged too. According to experts, the rhino is also stressed and needs to be under observation before being released in the wild," the minister said.
The adult rhino, suspected to have been washed away from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary by the floods, got stuck on the sandbar. Locals spotted the rhino Sunday last (Sep 30) and informed the forest department.
Although the forest department had tied up with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to airlift the animal to Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, officials decided to delay rescue operations as they feared that once the tranquilizer dart began to take effect, the animal could run deeper into the river, or into swampy mud, making the whole rescue operation that much more difficult and risky.
The forest department had been keeping an eye on the animal round-the-clock to ensure that no harm came to it. Personnel from the police and the forest department were deployed for the security of the stranded rhino.