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Rhino shot dead in Orang

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 11.01.11

Jorhat, Jan. 10: Rangers at Orang National Park have launched a massive operation in villages located near the park to apprehend poachers involved in the killing of a rhino last night.

The carcass of the 25-year-old female rhino was found near Kacharibhati on the periphery of the park early this morning, barely 500 metres away from human settlement. Its horn was missing.

Orang has witnessed the killing of a rhino after a year. Poachers had killed a rhino in the park in January last year.

Orang, the smallest national park in the state, has more than 60 rhinos, the population of which is on the increase with several calves being born in the past few months.

The divisional forest officer of Orang, S.K. Daila, said the poachers had adopted a new strategy of shooting the rhino at night. “Generally, poachers strike at dusk or in the wee hours, but last night they shot the rhino around 1.30am. Interestingly, only one shot was fired from a very close range,” he said, adding that this was the first time that poachers had used only one shot to kill a rhino in the park.

He said the poachers used the light of a torch to act as a pointer while shooting the rhino. “Our guards saw a faint beam of light around 1.30am but it was so foggy that they could not make out where it came from. The shot fired by the poachers was so precise that only one shot killed the rhino,” he added.

Daila said prima facie reports suggested that villagers living on the periphery of the park were involved in the crime. They burst crackers last night so that the gunshots could not be heard. “We are investigating in which village the crackers were burst,” he added.

Rangers of the park had intensified patrolling recently, especially during the wee hours and at dusk, following reports that poachers might target rhinos. Daila said poachers had made several attempts to kill rhinos last year but dedicated efforts of forest guards had foiled their plans.

Two poachers were killed in an encounter with forest guards in July last year and several arms and ammunition were recovered from them. Another poacher was killed in March last year.

A Royal Bengal tiger, which was suspected to have been poisoned, also died in the park recently.