Exactly a week after a rhino was killed at Orang National Park, poachers shot dead two more rhinos — a female and her calf — at the smallest national park in Assam last evening.
The carcasses of the two rhinos with their horns missing were recovered from the bank of the Brahmaputra in the Hazarbigha area. This is the second such poaching incident at Orang this year, which has about 100 rhinos.
Forest officials said gunshots were heard late last evening and immediately an operation was launched but by the time the carcasses were located, poachers had managed to take away the horns. Four empty cartridges of .303 rifles were recovered from the site.
While Kaziranga, Pobitora and Manas have borne the brunt of poaching this year, the 78.81 square km Orang National Park was a zero poaching area till last Sunday’s incident when poachers shot dead a male rhino and chopped off its horn at Nichlabari, after the animal strayed out. A rhino each had been killed in the park in 2011 and 2012.
Activists of Aranya Surakshya Samiti, an Orang-based NGO, staged a protest rally near the park today and demanded the army be deployed in rhino habitats of the state as the government has failed to protect the state animal. The NGO and a few other local organisations have also decided to block National Highway 52 near the park tomorrow as a mark of protest.
There has been a tremendous pressure from poachers in the rhino habitats in recent years, as prices of rhino horns have soared in Southeast Asian countries. Sources said a rhino horn fetches about Rs 80 lakh.
Altogether 34 rhinos have fallen prey to poachers’ bullets this year, with Kaziranga leading the way with 26. Kaziranga, a world heritage site, has over 2,000 rhinos. More....