There are also concerns that if the captive breeding program succeeds and the number of rhino increases in the future, ranch-bred rhinos might not be able to adapt and survive in the wild, because these animals are inbred.
Biologists and experts have been collecting specimens from wild rhino populations and providing them to private breeders. Nisha Rampal, a wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Institute of India, reported that India is home to between 700 and 10,000 wild rhinos.
Wildlife department officials and conservationists are also concerned that any future breeding programs in the wild will face many of the same problems because of the genetic bottleneck of the wild population. According to them, the wild rhino population has genetic diversity because it has not been bottlenecked. They believe that wild population should be the only source for rhino breeders.
The way forward being discussed is to encourage private breeders to contribute to the conservation of the species. The government could also buy rhino from private breeders to increase the wild population in the future.
Zhang said that in the past, the traditional breeding method used in wild rhinos was to catch a female and mate with one of the males. However, today in the wild, the females choose their mates. This is a new way of mating they could not consider before.
In the last couple of years, the wildlife department of Government of India has been working on a captive breeding program. It has bought in animals from private breeders and has started a vaccination program to protect the wild population from disease. The Vaccination against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) has already brought a dramatic drop in the number of births to captive rhinos.
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