The recent rise in cases of rhinoceros poaching with sophisticated weapons, suggesting involvement of organised crime syndicates, was a serious matter that could have grave implications for the protection of the species, WWF-India said today.
"The recent rise in cases of rhino poaching with sophisticated weapons indicates the involvement of organised crime syndicates and is a cause of serious concern," said Dr Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF-India.
Ghose spoke about a recent meeting of five countries - Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal - held in Indonesia's Bandar Lampung, where a common action plan was agreed with the aim of increasing the population of the Asian rhino by at least 3 per cent annually by 2020.
As per figures till March 2013, there were only 3,500 rhinos in Asia (compared to over 25,000 across Africa). Some species remain hanging by a thread, in single populations numbering less than 50 animals, officials said.
The international community has paid significant attention to the plight of the black and white rhinoceros across Africa, but relatively little focus has been given to the Asian species, they said.
However, committed action by Indian government had led to rhino populations bouncing back in Assam and their numbers had doubled over the last four decades, officials added.
Terming the Indonesia meet a welcome initiative for sharing experiences, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden of Assam, Suresh Chand, said that such forums will be able to draw the attention of international organisations as well as the governments to issue of rhino conservation.
The second meeting on the lines of the one in Indonesia is scheduled to take place in Assam next year.