In what should set the alarm bells ringing, an adult male rhino has been found killed by poachers in the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The poachers took away the horn after killing the helpless animal. With this latest casualty, the number of total rhinos killed by poachers has already reached six in the first three months of 2015.
Forest officials say that upon hearing sounds of gunshots near Tamulipathar camp in the Agaratoli Range of the rhino habitat, they launched an extensive search operation in the morning. But unfortunately it turned out to be a futile exercise as by then the poachers had already killed the rhino and escaped with the horn. Divisional forest officer S K Seal Sarma informed that they have recovered five AK rifle cartridges near the carcass of the rhino.
The point of suspicion at the time of writing this article is directed towards Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers (KPLT) militants. It must be noted here that forest security guards have so far gunned down five poachers/linkmen in separate incidents Sonitpur, Karbi Anglong, Nagaon, Golaghat and Lakhimpur districts; two security guards have also laid down their lives while defending these endangered animals.
Kaziranga National Park continues to be the most badly affected from poaching activities accounting for 60 of the total 75 rhinos being killed in the state since 2013. Among the other parks on the receiving end of poaching activities include: Manas National Park (6), Orang National Park (4), and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (4).
Here is a table showing the year-wise rhino causalities in the state.
|Year||Killed by poachers|
|2015||6 (Till Date)|
The Minster for Environment and Forest Atuwa Munda, while replying to a question by AIUDF MLA Ali Hussain, also said that 145 rhinos lost their lives in the Kaziranga National Park from natural causes. The death toll in Orang of natural causes is one.
Elaborating more on natural deaths, the minister told that during the corresponding period 12 tigers and 115 elephants lost their lives.
The minister went on to assure the public that his government is aware of the ongoing poaching menace and that they are working out a plan to address it. He informed that as many as many as 124 poachers have been arrested in Kaziranga during the period and security would be beefed up even further. Steps like revamping the existing infrastructure and equipping the forest guards with more modern and sophisticated weapons are undertaken to address the situation. Further, he informed that there is a renewed emphasis on departmental coordination which apart from beefing up the security network will bring the guilty swiftly to justice.