The carcasses of the rhinos in Kaziranga on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Tezpur: Poachers killed a female rhino and her calf in Kaziranga National Park on Saturday night.
The park, under Jakalabandha police station, has now lost three rhinos in the past 48 hours and five rhinos so far this year.
Deben Borah, officer in-charge of Jakalabandha police station, said 10 empty shells of an AK-series rifle were found from the spot. He said the incident occurred around 10.30pm at Tinikati under Burapahar range of the park. The female rhino was 25 years old while the age of its calf was three years.
The two rhinos were killed in the same area where another was gunned down on Friday.
Borah said they are working on clues. “We know the main routes through where the poachers flee after killing rhinos and are working to catch the culprits,” he said.
Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) N.K. Vasu, who is camping in Kaziranga, said some poachers have managed to sneak into the park. “We cannot say clearly whether this was the same group that killed the rhino on Friday. Poachers took away the horn of the female rhino and fled after crossing the southern side of National Highway 37. They used sophisticated arms and several bullet marks were found on the rhinos,” he said. A special task force was in the area, he said. “Sniffer dogs have been pressed into action and help from paramilitary forces has been sought.”
Seventeen rhinos were killed in Kaziranga in 2015 and 18 last year, which led to concern among wildlife conservationists across the world. In 2013 and 2014, 27 rhinos each were killed in the park. A female rhino and her calf were earlier killed at a paddy field near Methoni tea garden, 2km from Kaziranga, on January 20, 2008.
Kaziranga authorities are also using drones to monitor the World Heritage Site.
Sources said poachers are continuously changing tactics and using latest equipment. A poisonous liquid, used in darts for rhinos, was seized recently from two poachers arrested by park officials in Biswanath district. An inflatable rubber boat, a motorcycle and tranquillising equipment were also seized from the duo.
Pranab Kumar Das Telegraph India