| The elephant carcass that was recovered from Digboi on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, Dec. 16: Poachers killed another rhino at Kaziranga National Park and took away its horn amidst claims of heightened security. In other cases of suspected poaching, the carcasses of two elephants were recovered in two different parts of Assam today.
The strike on rhino came last night at Burapahar range of the park, which has now lost 21 rhinos to poachers this year. This was the third rhino killed at Burapahar within the past one-and-a-half months. The first was killed on November 21 and the second on December 4. Poachers had failed to take away the second rhino’s horn owing to prompt action by guards.
Kaziranga director N.K. Vasu said spent cartridges of AK-47 and .303 rifles and double-barrel guns were recovered from near the carcass. He said forest guards launched an operation immediately upon hearing gunshots but failed to prevent the poachers from taking away the horn.
The carcass of the female rhino was recovered near Barbhoog anti-poaching camp in the wee hours today. “Operations are still on to apprehend the poachers,” Vasu said.
A senior police official in Nagaon district — the area falls under the jurisdiction of Nagaon police — said the poachers could be from outside the state but locals were allegedly providing them logistical support. “Without local help it would not be possible to kill rhinos,” he said.
The carcass of one of the elephants was recovered from Guijan wildlife range under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district.
Divisional forest officer V. Mathur said the post-mortem could not be conducted today as the area is very remote but preliminary investigations suggest a case of poaching. “The head has been severed from the body,” he added.
The decomposed carcass of the other elephant, suspected to have been killed by poachers a few days ago, was found in Kawasing reserve forest in the Rani area. Its trunk, tail, tusks and a large part of the body were missing.
Two rhinos have also been killed at Orang National Park this year. However, poachers failed to take away the horn of the one killed on December 6, following immediate action by forest guards.
A spurt in rhino killings in recent time has prompted the forest department and police to launch an operation against poachers. Forest officials said despite the crackdown, the killing of rhinos took place frequently because of the heavy demand for rhino horns in the international market.
An officer at Diphu police station said poachers have links with horn traders in Myanmar. “Horns are smuggled to Dimapur, which then find their way to the international market through Manipur.”
He said investigations had revealed that the rhino horn trade in Assam was sponsored by a gang belonging to the Paite community in Manipur. They give the poachers weapons and 25 per cent of the profit for each horn, which is sold for Rs 15 lakh.