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Poachers kill rhino
GUWAHATI, FEB 4 (IANS):
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Published on 5 Feb. 2010 12:30 AM IST
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An endangered one-horned rhinoceros was shot dead by poachers Thursday at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, the fifth such incident in the past one month, an official said Thursday. The wildlife department official said the latest killing was reported inside the sanctuary, 220 km east of Guwahati. “We heard three gunshots. Our forest guards rushed out and challenged the poachers by firing at them. Our guards saw the rhino falling down, but the poachers escaped in the thick undergrowth,” a park warden said. The poachers, however, failed to extract the horn. Last week, a rhino was killed inside the park and the poachers took away the horn. At least 18 rhinos were killed in 2008 and 14 in 2009. So far five rhinos have been killed this year, four in Kaziranga and another at the Orang National Park in northern Assam. Between 1980 and 1997, some 550 rhinos were killed by poachers in the wilds of Kaziranga. As per the 2009 census report, 2,048 of the world’s estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinos lumber around the swamps and grasslands of Kaziranga, their concentration here ironically making the giant mammals a favourite target of poachers. Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, which many believe contain aphrodisiac qualities, besides being used as medicines for curing fever, stomach ailments and other diseases in parts of Asia. Rhino horn is also much fancied by buyers from the Middle East who turn them into handles of ornamental daggers. Elephant ivory tusks are chiefly used for making ornaments and decorative items. Profits in the illegal rhino horn trade are staggering. A rhino horn sells for up to Rs.1.5 million per kg in the international market after the horns are smuggled to clandestine Asian markets. Once extracted, the rhino horn is routed to agents in places like Dimapur in Nagaland, Imphal in Manipur and Siliguri in West Bengal. Rhino horns are believed to be smuggled to Kathmandu via Siliguri and then to China and the Middle East. They are also taken from Imphal to Moreh on the Manipur border with Myanmar and then to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and China. Agratoli Range of KNP has been cordoned off and over 100 forest staff were combing the forest to prevent the poachers from escaping, they said.

 
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