By Rhishja Cota-Larson
The Indian state of Assam is battling a killing spree which has so far claimed the lives of five greater one-horned rhinos in less than a week. Two of the rhinos were found alive, but later succumbed to their injuries. These deaths bring the total number of rhinos killed in Assam since the beginning of the year to at least 17, according to NDTV.
Heavy recent flooding in Assam has left rhinos particularly vulnerable, as they stray out of protected areas to escape rising waters. At time of writing, a rhino that has fled the flooded Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is stranded on a sandbar, awaiting an airlift decision.
Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan ordered a probe by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials into the rhino killings.
I am shocked…. Unscrupulous poachers have exploited the situation of natural disaster (floods) and attacked helpless animals which were seeking shelter. I have ordered a probe by a team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials.
The WCCB team visited rhino killing “hotspots” — including the Karbi Along district adjacent to Kaziranga National Park, the Dalmara Range of the Park, and Jagadamba Tea Estate.
In addition, the Army is being deployed along the Karbi Anglong hills, adjacent to Kaziranga National Park. Officials suspect that insurgents in Karbi Anglong are connected to a network of wildlife traffickers operating out of Dimapur in Nagaland.