Like a great number of species forced to share a planet with human beings, Indian rhino populations are not so healthy as they once were. Via Treehugger:
The Indian rhino is classified as a ‘vulnerable’ species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. With about 3,000 individuals living in the wild, and about 2/3 of those living in India’s state of Assam, one of the biggest risks they face is poaching. During the past decade, poachers and park rangers have actually been fighting each other quite literally, with 27 poachers being killed and 198 arrested. 156 rhinos have been killed in Assam since 2006.
The good news is that the conservation and anti-poaching efforts are bearing fruit. Indian rhino population in Kaziranga National Park in Assam is up 27% since 2006, or up about 4.6% a year, for a population of 2544 individuals.
And to whom do we owe this small modicum (not redundant, because even the word “modicum” covers a range of potential values) of success?
“When I took charge of the department, the one-horned rhino was tagged as an endangered species. But with its population increase, in spite of incidents of poaching, the endangered tag has been lifted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is now bracketed under the vulnerable category,” said Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain.
Rockybul, you might think, is ill-suited to the job. Sure, Indian rhinos face steep challenges — in addition to poachers, they face catastrophic habitat loss after their native jungles were rapidly converted to productive farmland ever since the introduction of pesticides made it possible for people who lacked resistance to malaria to penetrate territory that once stymied the British and allowed Nepal to maintain its independence — and could use all the help they can get. Indeed, you might reasonably think Rockybul ought to devote his conservational talents to species that better fit his name — say, red squirrels in Britain or moose in the United States.
But I personally could not think of an individual more capable of overcoming the long odds and successfully pulling rhinoceros out of a hat:
And yes, I’m fairly certain this is the actual etymology of Rockybul’s first name. Google “Rockybul” and he’s pretty much the only result that turns up.