Kaziranga National Park, home to 2,300 one-horned rhinos in India, is beset with rising poaching incidents in the last three years, reports said.
In 2015 alone 9 rhinos have been killed by intruders in Assam’s rhino conservation park that was known for its success to maintain rhino population at a higher level in the past two decades.
About 7 rhinos have been killed in Kaziranga and 2 more in Oranag and Sonitpur districts and poachers were paid Rs.10,000 for each killing they make though price for its horn and other extracts goes anywhere above $100,000 in international market, according to unconfirmed estimates.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar called for united effort to stop the blame game and focus on taking immeidate steps to tackle the poaching menace. Recently, even the Assam governor, P B Acharya, has made made a mention of it in a recent meeting with DGP Khagen Sarma.
Despite the forest department’s move to rope in local communities, poachers are mainly helped by these villagers, it is pointed out at the meeting.
“Our battle against poaching is a continuous process. It is a fight between our efforts on one side and greed on the other. Both the Centre and the state government will put in effort to curb poaching. If there are loopholes, we will plug them,” said Javadekar.
The minister said the Centre would amend some rules to stop poaching and selling of rhino horns. Eversince 2003, about 75 rhinos have been killed in Assam, state Environment and Forest Minister Atuwa Munda had informed the assembly earlier. About 37 rhinos were killed in 2013 and 32 in 2014.
In all, 54 rhinos were killed in Kaziranga National Park, and 6 more were poached in Manas National Park and 5 in Orang National Park. In addition, 4 rhinos were killed in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, according the state government statistics. The forest guards were able to arrest 124 poachers.
Besides poaching, 146 rhinos died of natural causes since January 1, 2013 in Assam.
Rhinos, which stood at 500,000 in the beginning of the 20th century have become targets of frequent poaching over the years pushing the iconic species declared closer to extinction the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in 2011, with the primary cause identified as poaching.
There are currently five remaining rhinos species as per the IUCN Redlist of threatened species, with three out of five species classified as critically endangered.
Their overall number fell to 70,000 by 1970 and declined further to just 29,000 today. The major cause of the extermination is by poaching done for their rare horns.
In southern Africa too, large-scale poaching of the black rhino resulted in a dramatic 96 percent decline from 65,000 in 1970 to just 2,300 in 1993. Though conservation efforts restored the number back to 5,055, the species is still in the ciritically endangered species.
Here is a list of population figures according to numbers published as of 31 December by the IUCN for African rhino species and results of a 2012 / 2013 census for Asian rhino populations.
White rhino population figures
Ceratotherium simum simum
Ceratotherium simum cottoni
Black rhino population figures
Diceros bicornis michaeli
Diceros bicornis bicornis
Diceros bicornis minor
Asian rhino population figures