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Shot days ago, Kaziranga rhino dies

Jorhat, Dec. 5: A rhino that was injured by suspected poachers a few days ago, died of its injuries in the Sukani area of Kaziranga National Park today.

Kaziranga official Pankaj Sarma said the female rhino was spotted in the same area under Agaratoli range on Tuesday with injury marks on its head and a front leg. “We provided treatment to the rhino yesterday but its condition deteriorated and it died this morning,” the official said.

A post-mortem of the carcass revealed a bullet injury to the head. The horn had not been taken away.

This is the 28th rhino killed by poachers at the World Heritage Site this year.

Going by the fact that maggots had infested the injury on the head, the rhino was probably shot more than a week ago, Sarma said. Another forest official said the animal was probably shot around 10 days back.

“We heard gunshots in the particular area about 10 days ago but we failed to locate any poachers or the rhino then,” he said.

However, it could also be possible that the rhino had strayed out of the park and was shot at by poachers outside the park, the official said. “The rhino probably returned to the park after it was shot,” he said.

At least four rhinos of Kaziranga have strayed out of the park and are, currently, grazing in various parts of Golaghat and Jorhat districts.

“Rhinos usually stray out of the park in search of food during winter when the land is dry. These animals travel long distances from the park and it becomes very difficult to protect these animals,” he said.

In another incident on Tuesday, there was a gun battle between forest guards and a group of poachers who were following a straying rhino that had wandered onto a sapori (sand bar) located along the border of Jorhat and Golaghat districts.

The rhino that died today was first spotted by forest guards near Dipholu river, which flows through the national park, who immediately informed park authorities, Sarma said. Subsequently, veterinarians at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation were informed.

“The condition of the rhino was not good when we arrived at the spot yesterday. Apart from the head injury, one of the nails was missing and the rhino could hardly move,” a veterinarian at CWRC said.

He said the animal was provided necessary treatment yesterday but this morning when the team returned, it was found dead.