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Assam: Rhino poachers run riot at Kaziranga Park
K Anurag in Guwahati | January 21, 2008 12:56 IST
Poachers gouged out the horn of a female rhino and killed her three-year-old calf at Kaziranga National Park on Saturday night.
Kaziranga National Park is the world famous abode of the one-horned Asiatic Rhinoceros and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site in Assam.
According to wildlife officials at Kaziranga Park, the female rhino and her calf were pounced upon by poachers near Methoni tea estate at the eastern fringe of the 900 sq km-wide sprawling national park.
The poachers fired upon the female rhino to immobilise her before gouging out the horn. The rhino was grievously injured in the process and is now bring administered treatment at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre near the national park.
The poachers also shot dead the three-year-old calf of the rhino. Wildlife officials who were informed about the incident by employees of Methoni tea esate on Sunday morning, recovered five empty cartridges of .303 and .315 rifles from the site of killings.
The national park has faced serious threat from poachers since last year. As many as 21 rhinos were killed last year.
Saturday night's incident is the second incident of rhino killing in the national park so far this year.
Earlier, on January 7, a gang of poachers shot dead a male rhino in Bagori Range of the national park.
The national park is estimated to have 1,855 rhinos according to the census carried out in the year 2006.
Park officials informed there was shortage of manpower to facilitate proper manning of the over 900 sq km-wide wildlife habitat. To make matters worse, a large number of existing forest guards engaged in the national park are over 40, making them physically unsuitable for policing inside the rough terrain of the national park.
The park officials informed that a new breed of poachers armed with sophisticated weapons are on the prowl in the national park posing a serious challenge to ill-equipped and understaffed wildlife authority in the national park.