Concerns are growing for the Greater one-horned rhino in India, following a recent spate of poaching in Kazaringa National Park, Assam, India.
Recent raging flood-waters have submerged the 430-square-kilometre park in eastern Assam, which is home to the largest concentration of the world’s remaining one-horned rhinos. Poachers are stepping up attacks, as the rhinos flee the rising floods.
In late September, six rhinos were killed in a single week, with two rhinos having their horns hacked off while still alive. Vets tried to save the wounded rhinos, however their injuries proved fatal.
A total of 17 rhinos have been killed by suspected poachers in Assam this year. In addition, the area experiences severe flooding in July which devastated wildlife in the area, killing over 600 animals including 14 rhinos.
The public have taken to the streets in protest against the state government’s failure to protect Kaziranga’s rhinos from poachers. Hundreds of protesters joined the Assam People’s Association for a rally on the streets. Some have blamed the government for the recent poaching crisis, claiming that illegal settlers in the park have turned to poaching.
In response the state government has set up its own Wildlife Crime Bureau in Assam, with the sole objective of preventing poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife.
The Assam government has also sent 100 guards from the Assam Forest Protection force to patrol the area in a bid to prevent any further poaching incidents.
A four-member team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) also visited the Kaziranga National Park to investigate the killings. Six people were arrested in relation to the poaching, during joint operations between the police and forest officials in and around the National park. They also recovered several rifles and ammunition.
Photo credits: Renaud Fulconis