A rhino was shot dead and its horns taken away by poachers in Kaziranga National Park, taking the total number of rhinos being killed this year to nine, park officials said on Sunday.

Patrolling forest guards came across the bullet-riddled body of a male mature rhino near Kawoimari forest camp in Bagori range of the park on Sunday morning, they said.

The forest guards also found two .303 rifles and several rounds of ammunition from the spot, they said.

A massive search operation with sniffer dogs has been launched in the area to nab the poachers, they said.

This is the ninth incident of rhino being killed in the park since January this year.

Meanwhile, a walkathon was organised by Kaziranga University in association with Assam government’s Forest department as a part of the campaign to stop poaching of one-horned rhinoceros.

It was participated by Assamese cine star Nishita Goswami, Arjuna Awardee Arjun Bhogeswar Baruah, Guinness Book World Record Holder Abhijeet Baruah along with several people from school, colleges and sports persons.