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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Fourth rhino killed by poachers in Kaziranga

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 02, 2013
First Published: 19:34 IST(2/2/2013) | Last Updated: 23:57 IST(2/2/2013)

A rhino was gunned down on Saturday after a fierce gun battle in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, country's richest bio-diverse and world heritage site.

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Forest officials said that the big horn animal, the fourth in a week to be killed, became victim to bullets in an exchange of fire between poachers and forest guards that lasted for over an hour.

However, poachers left behind body of the rhino which had bullet shots.

In a year or so the highly-armed poachers have killed about 25 rhinos of around 400 in the park. These killings are other than rhinos who died during two floods that hit Kaziranga in 2012.

In the last decade or do, around 115 rhinos have been poached in Kaziranga alone.

A recent alert by International Union for Conservation of Nature, a UN recognised body, said that rhino poaching and illegal horn trade in the past year was highest in over 20 years and was threatening to reverse years of conservation efforts. 

The maximum killing of Rhinos with helicopter laden poachers have taken place in the African continent. In countries like South Africa, the government had to call Army to fight poachers.

Situation in Kaziranga is fast approaching similar level. Poachers may not have helicopters but are using highly specialised weaponry such as AK-47 guns to kills rhinos and combat ill-equipped and poorly trained forest department officials.

Around half of the posts of forest guards are lying empty and the weapons they use are old and outdated.

The IUCN said that conservation in Nepal and India has resulted in increased number of Rhinos and a reason for sustained attack of poachers.

Kaziranga's closeness to Myanmar makes it easy for poachers to smuggle the priceless horn out of the country, officials say.


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