Rhino killing: Poachers arrested in Kaziranga National Park

The carcass of an adult female rhino, with its horn missing, was recovered from the national park on 22 January

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Representative image
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NH Digital

Police have arrested suspected poachers involved in the recent killing of a rhino in Assam's Kaziranga National Park, a senior official said on Saturday. The pachyderm's horn has also been recovered, director-general of police (DGP) G.P. Singh said.

A team led by the superintendent of police of Golaghat district made the arrests, he said. "Poachers have been arrested along with recovery of poached horn and the AK Rifle used in the poaching. Some more recoveries are yet to be made along with reconstruction of crime scene," Singh wrote on X. The DGP, however, did not specify the number of persons arrested.

"Compliments to the entire team and supervisory officers. Our commitment to protect one-horned Rhinos is unwavering," he added.

The carcass of an adult female rhino, with its horn missing, was recovered from the national park on 22 January. It was deduced that on 21 January, poachers had killed the rhino at Agoratoli Forest Range within the national park and tiger reserve, and officials claimed that the poachers cut off the horn and escaped.

The police said they initiated an operation immediately after the discovery, and were able to catch the poachers within a week. “We monitored potential markets and followed the links that were provided. The poachers' attempt to sell the horn was predicted. We apprehended the poachers on Friday after receiving specific information,” a senior police officer said.

Joge Pegu, a resident of Bijni subdivision in Chirang district, has been identified as one of the arrested poachers. The police said further information will be released later and they are still looking into the incident.

The forest department of Assam adopted a proposal to de-horn rhinos to save them from poachers in February 2014. In January 2023, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on X (then Twitter) that the state had recorded zero Indian rhinos poached in 2022, with the announcement being widely seen as a major wildlife conservation success story.

The news of zero rhino poaching came after nearly 30 years, with only one case recorded in 2023. Police said poaching has been on the decrease throughout the past several years as a result of concrete steps made to stop it. “We have been keeping strict vigil on each and every movement including the sale of animal body parts because sale of such products are the cause of most of the killings,” the police said.

Poaching of the Indian one-horned rhino has indeed been on the decline over the past few years, thanks to widespread conservation efforts that brought its status from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ in 2008.

In a January 2022, Down to Earth wrote, "The trade in rhino horn is highly lucrative. In the black market, rhino horn prices can fetch up to $400,000 per kg for Asian rhino horns and $20,000 per kg for African rhino horns.

"While rhino horn is mostly used as a traditional medicine in Vietnam to reduce hangovers, detoxify the body, and reduce high fever (despite no scientific evidence supporting these benefits), a large quantity of rhino horn is supplied to the art and antiques market in China."

With inputs from agencies

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