| Tragic end |
Jorhat, Jan. 19: A female rhino was killed in the Bagori range of Kaziranga National Park after it charged at some forest guards, forcing them to open fire in self-defence.
The death comes close on the heels of a similar incident around a month ago when Assam Police personnel had shot down a Royal Bengal tiger that had strayed out of Kaziranga.
A park official said the forest guards were conducting an operation against poachers in the Kayoimari area on January 15 when the rhino charged at them. “The group fired in the air to scare off the rhino but a bullet hit it accidentally,” he said.
He said the dead rhino was discovered on January 17 when the same group of forest guards went back to the area to search for poachers. “They found the carcass and informed us immediately. The horn was subsequently retrieved,” he added.
He said the incident was unfortunate but not uncommon. “These incidents are common in Kaziranga and forest guards are constantly under threat of being attacked by wild animals,” he said, adding that such incidents had increased in recent times because of an increase in animal population in the park.
“Like the rhino population, which has crossed the 2,000 mark, all the animals have increased in number at Kaziranga and as a result, conflicts with forest guards are bound to increase,” the official said.
The park has been witnessing an increase in animal attacks on forest guards. In the past year, four forest guards and two home guards died after being attacked by rhinos, elephants and wild buffaloes.
The official said the rhino may have attacked because it had a calf. Female rhinos are usually very protective of their calves and attack at the slightest provocation. “We have launched a search in the area to look for the calf. There were, however, no sucking marks on the carcass confirming the fact that the calf, if any, is a grown up,” he said.
He added that the biggest concern for the park authorities in recent times is the straying of rhinos. “At least five rhinos have strayed out of the park recently to various locations in Golaghat and Jorhat districts,” he said. Help has been sought from the forest departments of both the districts to keep a watch on the rhinos, which could easily fall prey to poachers.
“Efforts are on to bring the rhinos back to the park,” he said.