An Assam resident has been accused of killing a female rhino with a spear, the second unnatural death of a one-horned rhino this year.
This is the first time that a rhino has been speared to death in the region, according to authorities of the Kaziranga National Park & Tiger Reserve, where the incident took place.
The accused, 47-year-old Naren Saikia, was arrested on November 26 based on information provided by the public as well as intel gathered by the forest department, which lodged a suo motu case. He has been remanded in 12 days’ judicial custody.
The KNP, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is one of the most sought after wildlife destinations in India and is home to over 2,613 one-horned rhinos, according to a census conducted early this year.
KNP field director Sonali Ghosh told The Telegraph on Saturday that the one-horned rhino was attacked by Saikia of Lokhorakhonia village when it strayed into the area on November 24.
The carcass of the rhino, estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old, was recovered on November 30 by forest department personnel with the spear still lodged in its body. A post-mortem was carried out on December 1.
Ghosh said: “This is a first-of-its-kind incident in which a spear has been used to kill a rhino. The post-mortem reveals the rhino was attacked from very close quarters with a spear when it strayed into the village.”
According to her, it is not easy to kill a rhino with a spear. “He (Saikia) must have ventured very close to the rhino with the intention of killing it. The attack punctured the stomach area of the rhino.”
According to Ghosh, this is the second unnatural death of a rhino this year but it is not a case of poaching. The first rhino death was in January.
The incident has prompted the KNP authorities to intensify efforts to check the straying of animals, which increases during the paddy season.
“There will be a multi-pronged strategy to check the animals from straying into human habitation — like increased surveillance, use of technology and engaging with residents,” a forest official said.