Kaziranga (Assam): Killing of rhinos continued in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam with one more adult pachyderm falling to bullets of poachers who took away its horn. This has taken the total number of rhinos killed in Kaziranga to 31 this year and three in the last 20 days, Park officials said today.
The male rhino was gunned down between Khorali and Borbhug forest camps in Burapahar Range of the 430 sq km World Heritage Site last night. Around 8 PM the forest guards heard gun shots and retaliated leading to heavy exchange of fire with the poachers for one and half hours, they said. Launching a search operation today, the rhino carcass was recovered with its horn sawed away and empty cartridges of AK 47 and .303 rifles scattered near it, the officials said.
The Park and Forest Department officials suspect that poachers, helped by agents living near KNP, drive adult rhinos towards Buraphar and Bagori ranges to kill them. Rhino horns are highly valued in the international black market fetching lakhs of rupees for their so-called medicinal values and for being a 'status symbol' for a section of people in south east Asian countries.
Eleven rhinos, including two in recent floods, have also died due to natural causes in the KNP this year. Last year there were 16 natural deaths of rhinos, including those killed in floods, the sources added. Assam is home to two-third of the world's one-horned rhinos and Kaziranga is the habitation of over 2,000 of the animals.