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Rhino poached, tuskers die

Jorhat, Dec. 4: A rhino was killed by poachers at Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park in Nagaon while two elephants were electrocuted in neighbouring Golaghat district in the wee hours today.

This was the 20th rhino to have been killed this year.

Poachers, however, failed to take away the horn of the rhino, which was shot in the Sanakchapori area under the Burapahar range.

Nagaon superintendent of police Vivek Raj Singh told The Telegraph that an operation was launched as soon as gunshots were heard by forest guards around 2.30am this morning.

The poachers, sensing the presence of the forest guards, fired on them from a hideout. The forest personnel returned fire. “The police were also informed immediately and joined the search for the poachers. The operation is still on,” the SP said.

He said the group of poachers was armed with AK-47 rifles, apart from .303 and double-barrelled guns. “We have recovered empty cartridges of AK-47, .303 and double-barrelled guns from the site,” Singh said.

Kaziranga director N.K. Vasu said the carcass of the male rhino was recovered early this morning. “The poachers failed to take away the horn because of swift action by the forest personnel. Our guards reacted immediately on hearing the gunshots,” Vasu said.

This is the second incident of rhino killing at Burapahar range of the park in a fortnight. Poachers had killed a rhino at the Kukrakata area on November 21 and managed to take away the horn. Empty cartridges of AK-47 rifles were recovered from the site. Singh said probably the same group of poachers was involved in today’s incident. In the other incident, the two elephants died after they came into contact with low-lying power cables in the Thoramukh area under Golaghat police station.

Forest officials said the incident occurred when a herd of elephants crossed a paddy filed. “The power cables were lying low in the area and two male elephants came in contact with the wires and were killed instantly,” a forest official said.

This is the second such incident in the area. Last year, another elephant died under similar circumstances. The herd of elephants has been in constant conflict with the Thoramukh villagers. The herd damaged large swathes of paddy crop in the last few months and the villagers today threatened that if compensation was not paid to those affected, the carcass of the two elephants would not be handed over to the forest department.

The villagers also demanded setting up of a permanent forest camp in the area to guard the paddy fields from marauding herds of elephants.