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Monday, May 26, 2008

Rhino poaching is getting worse in India

If reports are to be believed, the Rhinoceros might soon become extinct in India, with the poaching of the vulnerable animal getting worse in the country.

According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), poachers are hitting hard on rhinos in Indian national parks as three of them were killed in Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, and two in Kaziranga in the last week of April.

No later than April 28, a calf and his mother were poached again in Kaziranga National Park. In 2007, 16 rhinos were killed and four more till February this year.

Rhinos in Nepal are also victims as one was killed a week back, making the total of poached one-horned rhino rise to six specimens since January.

Until recently, an average of five to ten rhinos were killed each year, but a rise in the number has been recorded recently.

The situation of the Indian rhinos remains precarious as global market pressures continue to push the demand for their horns currently valued at about 37,000 US dollars per kilo in international market.

The recent incidents suggest that poachers are taking advantage of gaps in enforcement efforts at the field level. They are becoming bolder, shooting animals in the vicinity of park camps and villages, suggesting again that the profits from this illegal trade are high enough to take such risks.

Poachers are coming from areas outside Assam.

“The criminal cartels poaching rhinos and trading in their horns have become more organized as an international crime syndicate,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, WWF-International Species Programme Director.

“An organized effort must be launched to stop the poaching, and attack the trade at its rootsthe organized smuggling networks taking the horns across the border to end markets, in China and elsewhere in Asia,” she added.

To ensure the safety of the Rhinos in Assam, WWF, on behalf of the larger conservation community, urges the government of Assam to rise to the open defiance shown by organized criminal gangs and put in place a set of measures.

According to Dr Sujoy Banerjee, WWF India Director of Species Conservation, “The Central Government must organize a meeting immediately between the state enforcement agencies of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and West Bengal, and NGOs working in the region to devise a response to the problem of interstate traffic of rhino horns.”

“It should also pledge additional support to the state of Assam to counter this crisis,” he added.


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