The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Little hope for rhinos

Guwahati, July 20: Officials of the Kaziranga National Park today admitted that they were helpless in containing the recent spurt in poaching, even as another rhino was killed inside the game reserve.

Forest guards today recovered the carcass from inside a pit near Natun Beel under Agaratoli range of the park. The horn was missing.

The rhino is suspected to have been killed a few days ago.

This was the 10th rhino to fall prey to poachers in the national park this year.

The park has a rhino population of around 2,000, nearly 60 per cent of the total population of rhinoceroses in the world.

Another rhino was killed at Goroimari in the Bagori range on Tuesday. The range has the highest concentration of rhinos in the national park and is heavily guarded.

Kaziranga director S. Buragohain said the park administration was taking all steps to check the recent spurt in rhino poaching, but pleaded helplessness since resources were limited.

A gang of poachers with international links is behind the recent rhino killings at the national park. The gang is equipped with the latest weapons, he said.

The park director added that many of the rifles being used by the forest guards were not working properly as they were quite ancient.

There is also a shortage of manpower for patrolling the 340-sq-km park, considered the home of the one-horned rhinoceros.

The Assam forest department has decided to open an intelligence wing since rhino poaching has risen sharply.

The decision to open the intelligence wing was taken after reports came in that members of a gang of international buyers of rhino horns were regularly visiting Assam.

Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain had earlier announced a special action plan to check rhino poaching at Kaziranga.

As part of the action plan, more forest guards are scheduled to be deployed in the national park.

On Wednesday, the park received a new consignment of arms and ammunition to aid officers in their battle against poachers. The consignment includes 50 .315 rifles and 8,000 bullets.

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