Today's Paper

Third rhino killed in three weeks

Sushanta Talukdar

Guwahati: A mature female rhino at the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in Assam, whose horn was hacked off by poachers on Saturday night after being shot, died on Monday. The poachers killed its three-year old calf and hacked off its tiny horn using an axe.

Park officials said that despite the efforts of a team of doctors, the mother rhino died of bleeding. They were attacked in a paddy field close to a tea estate, about 2 km from the park boundary.

With this, the number of KNP rhinos killed by poachers this year went up to three. Last year, 20 rhinos were poached in Assam. According to a census done in 2006, KNP has 1,855 rhinos.

Even as poaching is growing, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is facing a staff shortage. The sanctioned strength of field staff at the 430-sq km park is 479. However, 85 of these posts are lying vacant. Meanwhile, the park area has been expanded to about 900 sq km.

Of the 394 existing field staff, about 100 are above 50 years of age, and about 280 are between 40 and 50. Park officials say that for effective coverage against poachers at least 2,700 “front line” staff are needed.

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