Rhino poaching on rise at Kaziranga National Park in Assam

December 25th, 2007 - 5:07 pm ICT by admin  

Kaziranga National Park (Assam), Dec.25 (ANI): Assams Kaziranga National Park has been a remarkable success story of conservation of the one-horned Indian rhinoceros and the wildlife in north-east India. But the rising instances of poaching of rhinos has left officials baffled.
At least 20 one-horned rhinos have been killed in 2007 till date. It was four to eight each year in number between 1998 and 2006.
“This is a very serious issue. This is not the first time that two rhinos have been killed in three days. In March, six rhinos were killed in a span of 30 days. This is first time after 1998 when over 10 rhinos have been killed in Kaziranga. This year poachers have killed 20 rhinos,” said Bibhab Talukdar, a wildlife activist.
With the increase in rhino population in Kaziranga, their habitat space within the park is shrinking. Many rhinos are reported to have moved out of the park. Poachers, however, have been targeting rhinos both inside and outside the park.
Wildlife authorities attribute their helplessness to check the poaching menace effectively to lack of financial resources.
“We have about 85 casual workers and trying to increase their number. But we admit that we can never employ as many staff as the requirement is. The bigger issue, though, is the issue of intelligence. The intelligence information that we are supposed to receive about the poachers is very expensive, said Mohan Chandra Malakar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) Assam.
For single intelligence information, we have to spend a lot. It is a very risky task and people do not want to take the risk for less money. So we certainly have scarcity of the money that is required to receive intelligence information about the poachers,” said Malakar.
Authorities now feel that the State government should intervene into the matter and help the Forest Department by providing financial resources as well as security aids to be able to protect the rhinos both within and outside the periphery of the sanctuary.
Experts believe that the rhino horns, which are purported to have aphrodisiac properties, are smuggled to China and also sold in other Asian markets.
Buyers from the Middle East also use the horns to make ornamental dagger handles. Estimates suggest rhino horns can sell for up to 35,000 dollars a kilogram.
Meanwhile, the forest department of Assam has requested the Wild Life Institute of India to study the exact reason behind rhinos leaving the park and moving out. (ANI)

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