Guwahati: Ending the lull in rhino poaching inside the Kaziranga National Park, poachers Wednesday night slaughtered a full-grown rhinoceros and chopped off its horn before making good their escape.
This, incidentally, is the first incident of rhino poaching at the internationally-famous wildlife habitat; the last time poachers had killed a rhinoceros at Kaziranga was on April last year: exactly nine months ago.
Kaziranga National Park Field Director, P Sivakumar, told News Live that the incident took place at Kohra range of the national park on Wednesday night.
“We got the information today morning and an investigation is currently being carried out. The rhino was killed and its horn was taken away by poachers,” P Shivkumar said.
Meanwhile, park authorities have launched a massive operation to track and hunt down poachers involved in the incident. Forest guards were seen using sniffer dogs in their offensive.
Significantly, the incident comes barely hours after swashbuckling British cricketer-turned-rhino conservationist, Kevin Pietersen, applauded the conservation success story of the famed one-horned rhino at Kaziranga which had dropped to just one, the lowest in the past twenty-two years.
“Bravo, @narendramodi and bravo to all the men and women who sacrifice their lives in protecting the animals in India too. I’ve met lots of them and I respect you immensely!” Pietersen wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) January 19, 2022
Acknowledging Pietersen’s appreciation, Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted that the state government has launched aggressive programmes to bring down rhino poaching.
Thanks for the acknowledgment @KP24 . Inspired by Our PM @narendramodi we’ve launched aggressive programs to curb poaching. We’re proud to have burnt & destroyed a stockpile of Rhino horns, largest ever in world,on World Rhino Day to send a stern message to poachers & syndicate https://t.co/dzs5ipcGay
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) January 19, 2022
Rhino poaching had come down drastically after the BJP-led government came to power in Assam in 2016 dethroning the Congress regime. The slump was impressive since the past three years with two rhinos killed in 2020 and three in 2019.
Rhino poaching had reached its peak in 2013 and 2014, with 27 rhinos killed by poachers each year.
Year-wise data of rhino poaching shows four rhinoceros were killed by poachers in 2000; eight in 2001; four in 2002; three in 2003; four in 2004; seven in 2005; five in 2006; 16 in 2007; six in 2008; six in 2009; five in 2010; three in 2011; 11 in 2012; 27 in 2013; 27 in 2014; 17 in 2015; 18 in 2016; six in 2017; seven in 2018; three in 2019; two in 2020 and one in 2021.