Poachers Kill Two More Rhinos in Assam

Poachers killed two one-horned rhinos and chopped off their horns in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park (KNP) on Wednesday morning, officials said.

According to reports, poachers killed the rhinos nearby the NH-37, some 200 meters away from Dirang forest camp under Burapahar range office in the park on the wee hours of Wednesday.

“The incident occurred around 3:20 am on Wednesday nearby the NH-37, where poachers killed two rhinos using sophisticated weapons and chopped off its horn,” an official of KNP said.

“When our boys came out from the forest camp after hearing the firing sound, the poachers fired to forest guards and bullets were exchanged, but poachers had managed to flee from the site with horn,” the park official said.

Forest guards found the bullet injuring dehorned rhinos and four empty cartridges of AK series rifle from the site.

Top forest officials had rushed to the area and launched operation against the poachers.

Meanwhile, security forces had apprehended a person, owner of a roadside dhaba, in connection with the rhino killing incident.

Poachers killed 24 rhinos at Kaziranga in this year so far.

Kaziranga had lost 22 rhinos in 2012.

Recently, the state forest department had deployed 300 armed jawans of Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) in the world heritage site to protect wild animals and fight against poachers.

This year, the Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain had officialy introduced UAV surveillance at Kaziranga to protect the wild animals including one horned rhinoceros.

“The state forest department has totally failed to protect rhinos fro poachers in the world heritage site. The Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain had announced various schemes for the Kaziranga, but would not take any necessary steps to protect wild animals,” Niva Medhi, a wildlife activist said.

“155 one horned rhinoceros were killed at KNP in the past 12 years. During the period, poachers killed 10 rhinos in 2001, 5 in 2002, 6 in 2003, 5 in 2004, 12 in 2005, 9 in 2006, 19 in 2007, 12 in 2008, 14 in 2009, 8 in 2010, 9 in 2011, 22 in 2012 and 24 in 2013 upto this month and its shown an alarm bell to the big animal,” Medhi said.

Several organizations including WWF-India had raised their voice against rhino killings in Kaziranga and urged the state government and forest department to take necessary action to protect wild animals in the world heritage site.

The state government and forest department had announced that the government will be distributing AK series rifle to the forest guards at Kaziranga to fight against poachers who had used AK series rifles in recent rhino killings in the park, but the announced are still await for implementation.

Hemanta Kumar Nath is a correspondent in Assam, India, who reports on local news in Assam, the north east Indian state.