| Assam Forest Protection Force jawans out on patrol at Kaziranga National Park on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Oct. 19: Alarmed at the recent spate in rhino poaching in Assam, WWF-India has asked the Centre and the Assam government to put in place a foolproof method of protection that is anticipative rather than reactive.
Appreciating the state government’s move of stepping up patrolling as a move in the right direction, the international conservation organisation appealed to governments at the Centre and the state to come up with concrete measures to control the situation.
The organisation said it had been observed that new poaching groups, who crudely hacked the horns off live rhinos, were becoming increasingly active. “Recent reports suggest that Kaziranga alone has lost 39 rhinos in the last 10 months which is more than any other year in this century,” it said.
A forest department official today said the figure had now risen to 40, of which a majority of rhinos had drowned during floods. While 28 rhinos drowned in the two waves of flood, poachers killed the rest.
Assam chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand said the department alone could not achieve success and all stakeholders had to cooperate.
WWF-India said the poaching incidents needed to be viewed in a global perspective to better understand the grave risk the Indian rhinos were facing. “A reported upsurge of demand in rhino horns from Southeast Asian countries has been behind a serious rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, where more than 450 rhinos have been killed in the past 10 months. With enforcement efforts being enhanced in South Africa, the illegal rhino horn traders are likely to look elsewhere. Within India, Assam, and in particular, Kaziranga, with its 2,000 or more rhinos, is the single largest target for poachers. The proximity of Kaziranga to international borders also makes it highly vulnerable.”