Saving the Rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, Assam
Saving the Rhinos in Kaziranga
The rhinos at Kaziranga national park are one of the most endangered species in the world. There have been numerous incidents of poaching rhinos for its ivory which is priced at INR 8 Million. The demand is extremely high and there are several illegal rackets operating to fund the poachers. Poachers even risk their own lives to hunt down rhinos. The horn is valued in traditional Chinese and Southeast Asian medicine as it is believed that the keratin of rhino horn is a cure-it-all. It is even popular as an aphrodisiac.
Only a few thousand rhinos are left in Assam. Things took an unfortunate turn during the Assam floods in 2019 when three rhinos were killed by poachers, taking advantage of the floods. Hunting rhinos was declared illegal in 1910. However, rampant poaching has continued till date. Officials of the forest department are always on their toes to provide a safe environment for the rhinos.
Taking the Rhino by its Horns
India is leaving no stone unturned to protect the rhinos. An 82 member Special Rhino Protection Force (SRPF) has been deployed to keep the poachers at bay. The military personnel has been assigned to different parts of Kaziranga national park to combat poachers. During July 2019, several interventions were carried out by the forest officials to rescue rhinos. In one incident, a three-year-old rhino swam through floodwaters and reached the highway. The movement of the rhino was closely monitored to prevent it from entering the human settlement. The rangers heaved a sigh of relief when the rhino started swimming back to the highland.
The forest officials also issued electronic time cards to regulate the speed of the vehicles to 40 km per hour plying inside the park. There have been incidents in the past when rhinos have been knocked down while crossing the road.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the forest officials during monsoon is the sudden attack of poachers when a rhino dies. For example, if the poachers get to know that a rhino has died before the forest department officials are notified, they can arrive at the scene and flee away with the tusk. So it is critical for the officials to recover the horn before it ends up in the wrong hands.
The rhinos are the most prized possession of Kaziranga. It is paramount that timely measures are taken to prevent the poachers from attacking the animals. With the appointment of SRPF and the consistent efforts of the forest rangers, one hopes that the majestic rhinos get to roam around freely on the grounds of Kaziranga.