Assam State in India Takes New Steps to Stop Rhino Poaching

Julie Waggoner July 2, 2016 0

In the northeast Indian state of Assam the newly elected government this month announced plans to crack down on poaching of one-horned rhinos in the area.

One-horned rhino eating in Kaziranga National Park

An endangered one-horned rhino eats dried grass in Kaziranga National Park. (Image credit Toby Sinclair)

Kaziranga National Park in Assam is home to the world’s largest population of rare and endangered one-horned rhinos. More than 2,200 of these creatures live in the park, along with other species of rhino, elephants, deer and a plethora of other wildlife. This wealth of biodiversity makes Kaziranga a popular spot for wildlife safaris in India. Over the past several years rhino poaching deaths have decreased overall, but eight rhinos have already been killed in 2016, which spurred the government to take stronger action against poachers.

A rhino seen on safari in India

A one-horned rhino crosses the road in front of two 4X4s transporting Nat Hab guests. (Image credit Toby Sinclair)

Now local police will assist with stopping poachers and protecting rhinos, according to Pramila Rani Brahma, Assam’s new environment minister. Park rangers and Kaziranga National Park staff performed these tasks alone in the past. The police and the government are also looking into allegations that park staff members have been involved in trafficking rhino horns.

One-horned rhino horn closeup

This closeup shows the one-horned rhino’s small horn in more detail. Rhino horn fetched prices around $60,000 per kilogram in 2014, according to PoachingFacts.com. (Image credit Toby Sinclair)

Poachers have recently killed rhinos at times when the park received local or national attention. In June, poachers killed a rhino while Brahma and other officials were visiting to discuss how to handle the threat of poaching.

In April, poachers killed a rhino just a few hours after Kaziranga received a visit from Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge. The royal couple had visited the park to bring attention to the importance of protecting endangered species from poachers and wildlife trafficking.

An egret sits on an asian rhino's back

An egret sits on the back of an Asian rhino in Kaziranga National Park. (Image credit Toby Sinclair)

The one-horned rhino is one of five rhino species in the world. All species of rhinos are endangered and live under constant threat from poachers who kill them to sell their horns. Rhino horns are in high demand in countries such as Vietnam and China where people have the mistaken idea that consuming rhino horn will increase male virility.

Even with the threat of poachers in the park, Kaziranga is succeeding in preserving the majority of the rhinos that call it home. The number of rhinos in the park has increased from just 75 in 1905 to 366 in 1966 and an estimated 2,401 in 2015.

This post includes information from the Associated Press article “India’s Assam state makes new plans to halt rhino poaching.”

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