A higher demand for its ‘aphrodisiac’ horn and a resultant price rise has made the one-horned rhino more vulnerable than before. Assam forests officials said this on Saturday after poachers killed the 10th rhino in the 860 sq km Kaziranga National Park this year. It was the 16th rhino killed by poachers in Assam.
The killing of this rhino coincided with the start of a fresh animal census in central Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, whose officials said the poachers had sawed off the horn after shooting the animal on Friday. Poachers had last year offloaded a rhino horn — it weighs about 750gm — for Rs. 25-60 lakh in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur prior to being smuggled out to China and Southeast Asia. Officials said the prices have shot up by as much as 40% in the past six months.
“There is a huge demand for rhino horns in the international market, leading to a crisis for us. We’re trying our best to check this disturbing development and have deployed more than 1,200 forest guards to protect the animal,” Assam’s principal chief conservator of forests Suresh Chand said.