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Rhino shot dead in Kaziranga

- Sniffer dog follows ‘poacher’ to village, leads to his arrest

Jorhat, Jan. 25: Another rhino fell to poachers’ bullets in Kaziranga National Park in the wee hours today, the third of the species to be killed in the sanctuary this month.

A suspected poacher, Ratna Gowala of Amguri village, was arrested later in the day after Jorba, a sniffer dog, followed his scent and reached the village.

A forest official said the adult female rhino had been shot around 3.20 this morning.

Forest guards posted at the Sundori forest camp in Burapahar range of the park recovered the animal’s carcass with its horn removed at 3.50am.

The divisional forest officer (Kaziranga), S.K. Seal Sharma, said it was not known how many poachers were present at the site but that two guns were used to kill the rhino — an AK-47 and a .303 rifle — as cartridges of both the weapons were found near the site.

Jinaram Bordoloi, range officer of Burapahar range, said the sniffer dog tracked Gowala’s scent over hilly terrain to Amguri village, about 15km from where the rhino had been shot dead.

“After questioning Gowala, more details are likely to be revealed but the horn was not recovered from his possession,” he said. Jorba, a Belgian Malinois (shepherd dog), has been provided by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and brought to Assam by the Guwahati-based environmental NGO Aaranyak for tracking down poachers.

The foundation has been supporting the Wildlife Crime Monitoring Programme in the Northeast since 1994, in association with the NGO.

Poachers first struck this year on January 8 when they shot and injured a male rhino, which had strayed from Panpur Ghat under Panpur camp at Goribeel on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra in Sonitpur district. But they were not able to remove its horn.

The rhino succumbed to its injuries the next day despite receiving medical treatment from the park authorities.

The second rhino, a female sub-adult one, was shot dead and its horn removed by poachers on January 17 at Panpur Ghat.