GUWAHATI, Oct 21 - Rohit Sharma, vice captain of the Indian men's cricket team, who was in the city for the ODI match against the West Indies, was recently named as the WWF-India Brand Ambassador for Rhino Conservation. His presence in Guwahati is being viewed as a big boost for conservation of the species.
"As one of the country's largest conservation organisations, WWF-India has been working on rhino conservation for over four decades and has been instrumental in many milestones and successes in protecting the greater one-horned rhino or the Indian rhino. Rohit's association with the organisation and the cause is a big fillip towards spreading the message of protecting rhinos and preserving their habitats," a WWF spokesperson said.
Rohit Sharma recently also lent his autographed bat and jersey to be auctioned to support WWF-India's conservation efforts.
He said the cause of rhino conservation was close to his heart. "My association with WWF-India stems from my love for the species. Being in Guwahati, the land of rhinos, is indeed a pleasure and I am grateful for this opportunity that I have got to make a difference to the animal and the land they inhabit. As WWF-India's rhino ambassador, I will do everything I can in my ability to spread awareness for the protection and survival of the rhino and help make this world a better place for them,'' he said.
India is home to 82 per cent of the world's rhinos. Once found all along the Indo-Gangetic-Brahmaputra valley, the Indian rhino is now only found in select pockets in India and Nepal, with only about 3,500 of them left in India and Nepal combined.
"This is the result of excessive poaching for their horn and the expansion of human settlements and change in land-use patterns, leading to loss of rhino habitats. In the country, this large mammal is found primarily in three States - Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. A key initiator of the Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 in Assam in partnership with the Assam Forest Department and other partners, WWF-India is currently working to ensure that a breeding population of the greater one-horned rhino in India is spread across 10 Protected Areas by 2030," the spokesperson said.
Rohit Sharma, in his association with WWF-India, has joined the league of many other celebrities across the globe supporting WWF's conservation activities. In India, celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Vidya Balan, fellow cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Shikhar Dhawan, and actor Arjun Kapoor among others have supported WWF-India's work in the past.