Kaziranga’s Rhino Nightmare

Perhaps the best way now to deal with the rhino poaching in Assam is to follow the Zimbabwe model. Even after a change of guard in Assam, rhino horns continue to lure poachers to kill the wild beast for profit.

Zimbabwe last year has seen a situation where 50 rhinos were killed. As a means to tackle the menace, the country now says that it’s taking action to protect them.

Zimbabwe plans to remove horns from all rhinos living in the country’s national parks.

Of the 700 rhinos left in Zimbabwe, fewer than 100 live in the national parks.

Back home in Indian state of Assam life is no different. Poaching of the rhino has been an element of bother for those into wildlife conservation. When the British Royal couple visited Kaziranga National Park earlier this year a rhino poaching episode had then grabbed headlines.

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The then Tarun Gogoi government was quick to order an inquiry committee. Even though one of the core issues around which elections were held in Assam was rhino conservation,little has changed eversince.

There remains a clear and present danger for the survival of this majestic animal. Poachers experts believe are trading horns in the international black markets for humongous value.

Estimates suggest there are five surviving species of rhinoceros left in the world. Assam takes great pride in conserving the great Indian one-horned rhino home to more than two-thirds of the wild population in the world. Mostly found in Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Orang National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, covering an area of around 1100 square kilometers.

More than 90 rhinos were killed since 2013 with KNP conceding the highest incidents.

Going through reports one learns that rhinos are being targeted by trans-national crime syndicates.

Demand for rhino horns emanates majorly from Vietnam. It is widely believed many in China are driving `the demand for horns for having some medicinal and aphrodisiac properties’. But latest reporting busts the myth saying that Chinese government removed the rhino horn use from the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China.

The Rhino war led to the killing of 108 poachers along with a number of guards while more than 500 rhinos perished since 1985.

Citizens in Assam are up in arms against the manner in which the rhino poaching issue is being dealt with. They wonder how retired principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), Mohan Chandra Malakar has been appointed chairman of “Rhino Horns Verification Committee” when number of cases of poaching of the animal had taken place during his tenure.

Amidst the controversy and the rhino horn dilemma the BJP government in Assam is carrying out a first of its kind census of rhino horns.

What should the government do with these horns? Is a questions that is now haunting them.

Most horns being counted are of rhinos that died a natural death. Some were also recovered from poachers.

Since 1980, government records show 710 rhinos have been killed by poachers in the Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site.

This year alone, 14 rhinos have been poached .

The poaching pressure is higher in the Kaziranga park than in any other national park.

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Kaziranga, Manas and Orang national parks house 2,532 world famous one-horned rhinos as per latest census.

Assam has five national parks — Kaziranga, Manas, Orang, Nameri and Dibru-Saikhowa — with a total land area of 1,977.79 square km.

Despite the rhino horn being a point of concern, guards continue to stand guard while a special task force sets out on raids to keep a check.

There are daily challenges at Kazirangawith the new regime now prioritizing security and safety of the one horned beasts.

The BJP alleges the Gogoi government has been soft on encroachers who have settled in the periphery of the Kaziranga National Park.

Even as political rivalry continues between Congress and BJP, Assam’s famed one-horned rhinos – keep falling prey to poachers.

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