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: Rhinos poaching is getting worse in India



From: WWF
Published May 23, 2008 08:37 AM

Rhinos poaching is getting worse in India

Poachers are hitting hard on rhinos in Indian national parks as three of them were killed in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, and two in Kaziranga on the last week of April. No later than April 28, a calf and his mother were poached again in Kaziranga National Park. In 2007, 16 rhinos were killed and four more till February this year.

Rhinos in Nepal are also victims as one was killed last week, making the total of poached one-horned rhino rise to six specimens since January. Until recently, an average of five to ten rhinos were killed each year, but a rise in the number has been recorded recently.

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This worrying and tragic upsurge of poaching of rhinos contrasts with WWF-India’s celebration over the successful translocation of two male rhinos from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary back to Manas National Park, opening operations of Indian Rhino Vision 2020, an ambitious plan to give India a population of 3000 rhinos spread over protected areas in the northeastern state of Assam. That project is a joint project with the Government of Assam State.

The situation of the Indian rhinos remains precarious as global market pressures continue to push the demand for their horns currently valued at about US$ 37,000 per kilo in international market.

The recent incidents suggest that poachers are taking advantage of gaps in enforcement efforts at the field level. They are becoming bolder, shooting animals in the vicinity of park camps and villages, suggesting again that the profits from this illegal trade are high enough to take such risks.

Poachers are coming from areas outside Assam. “The criminal cartels poaching rhinos and trading in their horns have become more organized as an international crime syndicate”, said Dr Susan Lieberman, WWF-International Species Programme Director “An organized effort must be launched to stop the poaching, and attack the trade at its roots—the organized smuggling networks taking the horns across the border to end markets, in China and elsewhere in Asia.”.

WWF is committed to the conservation of elephants, rhinos, and tigers across their range—including the tremendously important populations of the Eastern Himalayas . WWF is also especially concerned about protection of the recently translocated rhinos.

“It is clear that the protection staff will need additional help in terms of temporary anti poaching camps that should shift in accordance to the ranging patterns of the translocated rhinos”, said Dr Sujoy Banerjee, WWF India Director of Species Conservation.

“The protection of these rhinos will also call for special arrangements during the monsoon when the operations in the park become difficult.”

To ensure the safety of the Rhinos in Assam, WWF, on behalf of the larger conservation community, urges the government of Assam to rise to the open defiance shown by organized criminal gangs and put in place a set of measures.

“The Central Government must organize a meeting immediately between the state enforcement agencies of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and West Bengal, and NGOs working in the region to devise a response to the problem of interstate traffic of rhino horns. It should also pledge additional support to the state of Assam to counter this crisis”, said Banerjee.

WWF India is committed to continuing to help the government of Assam to support rhino conservation and urges all like-minded and concerned individuals and organizations to extend their support for this purpose.

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