Two rhinos - a mother and a calf - were killed by poachers in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, about 150 km from here, on Saturday evening. The poachers chopped off the horn of one of the animals.
Forest officials said that the poachers gunned down the rhinos at the Hajar Bigha area after the duo strayed out of the park. This is the second incident of poaching this year in Orang, which has an estimated 100 rhinos. The last incident of rhino poaching in the park was just last Sunday. In this case too, the rhinos were killed after straying out of the park at the Nichlabari area.
"We heard the gunshots, but by the time we reached the spot, the poachers had already chopped off the horn of the mother rhino and made their escape from the spot. It's very unfortunate that within the span of a week, three rhinos have been killed in the park despite increased anti-poaching patrolling," a forest official.
Sources said the scarcity of grass at Orang because of the prevailing dry weather is causing rhinos to stray out of the park premises frequently.
"It is the most challenging time for us as rhinos are straying frequently in search of green grass outside the park boundary. Once they are outside the park, the rhinos are very vulnerable to poachers," the official said.
There were several other attempts of poaching in Orang this year as well, but the bids were successfully foiled. Last year, two rhinos were killed, while in 2011, the figure was one. Also, two poachers were killed last year, while one was arrested this year in Orang.
"Rhino poachers are always on the prowl, looking for the slightest opportunity to kill the animal. Poaching was low in Orang at a time when it was on the rise in Kaziranga and Manas National Parks this year. The killing of three rhinos within a week indicates that threat is very active in Orang," a wildlife crime expert said.