POACHING: We are barely two months into the new-year, and the number of rhinoceros that have fallen to poaching this year has already reached seven. While five rhinos were killed in January, two were killed as recently as last week on consecutive days of February. Of the seven rhinos killed, six were from the Kaziranga National Park while the seventh one was from the Manas National Park. Both these wildlife reserves in Assam are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
Speaking about the incident, the Director of Kaziranga National Park, M. K. Yadav, said that the park rangers have stepped up their surveillance operations within the park as well as in areas that are suspected to be the hideouts of poachers.
“We are also meticulously following intelligence inputs on the movement of the poachers and their possible shelters, and are hopeful of catching hold of them soon,” added Yadav.
Wildlife crime experts link the recent spurt in rhino poaching in the state to a clandestine international network of poachers who keep looking for safe places across the globe to hunt the horned pachyderm. Poaching of rhinos has been on the rise in recent years worldwide, mainly because the demand for the rhino’s horn has also grown.
Save The Rhino (STR), an international NGO engaged in conservation of African and Asian rhinos, puts the figure of poached rhinos in 2012 in South Africa alone at a staggering 668. However, a statement by STR points out that rhino poaching is certainly not limited to South Africa as the endangered horned beast is hunted down all across the African continent as well as in Asia in countries where smaller populations of rhinos exist.
The statement further added that poaching of rhinos is on the rise mainly because of illegal trade in rhino horn, especially in Asian countries like Vietnam and China where the horn is on high demand due to its alleged medicinal properties.
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