Kaziranga National Park authorities on Sunday launched a rhino census for a headcount. The two-day exercise will be conducted in all the five ranges of the park — Kohora, Bagori, Burapahar, Agoratoli and Biswanathghat.
More than 250 personnel from the state forest department, NGOs and media groups have been engaged in the operation.
Park director Sanjiv Kumar Bora said the census operation is a scheduled one. "The headcount of rhinos in Kaziranga is a regular practice and is conducted to implement a fruitful conservation method. It is important to assess the number of the one-horned rhinos in the park at regular intervals,'' he said.
For the census operation, the park has been divided into two parts and 81 blocks. "Today (Sunday), we conducted the census in the first part of the park between the Difolu river and NH-37. The remaining part on the northern bank of the Difolu, including the chapori areas of the Brahmaputra, will be covered tomorrow. We are using elephants to conduct the operation."
The national park has been witnessing unabated rhino killings since January. Besides natural deaths, the park has lost 10 rhinos to poaching this year so far. Last year Kaziranga lost more than 20 rhinos in poacher attacks.
According to the 2012 census, the rhino population in Kaziranga was 2,290. In 1999, the figure was 1,672, which increased to 2,048 in 2009. The census figures show that rhino population in the World Heritage Site has increased over the years. But poaching has risen sharply countering the population increase.
Two injured in rhino attack on jumbo
Two forest department personnel including a divisional forest officer (DFO) were injured in an attack by rhinos during the rhino census operation at Kaziranga National Park on Sunday. The injured were identified as DFO (Sunitpur east) Aniruddha Dey and Kaziranga forester Hemchandra Dutta.
They were admitted to hospital. DFO Dey's condition is said to be critical. Forest officials said the incident took place at Bagori forest range in the park when a rhino attacked the elephant they were riding. Both took a fall and hurt themselves. More....