INDIAN RHINO LOSES FIGHT FOR LIFE
INDIAN RHINO LOSES FIGHT FOR LIFE
2008-01-31 at 1:42:00 pm #19025
Indian rhino loses fight for life
The Kaziranga rhinos had been featured in a recent BBC series
A female Indian rhino and her calf have been killed for their horns in Kaziranga National Park, India.
The female survived for 35 hours after the attack, but
slowly bled to death after her horn was sawn off and shot twice by
The region’s rhinos had recently featured in the BBC’s natural history series Saving Planet Earth.
Despite best efforts by conservation groups, and increased funding, poaching has recently escalated in the region.
Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, from Aaranyak, a conservation
charity based in India, told BBC News: “The vet tried to save her but
it was not possible.
“It is the first time I have seen a rhino struggle to survive for 35 hours after having their horn sawn off.”
The attack took place under the cover of darkness on 19
January. The next morning the female was found in a critical condition.
She struggled to survive until 21 January.
Animal ambassador David Shepherd said: “Can man, the
most lethal animal on the planet, sink any lower in depravity just to
“In 50 years of conservation, I have seldom seen such a
sickening example of wildlife abuse. I love rhinos and they deserve a
better fate than this.”
Mr Shepherd is the founder of the David Shepherd
Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), which supports Aaranyak in its mission to
protect the Indian one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Kaziranga National Park.
Melanie Shepherd, from the DSWF told BBC News: “Between
1998 and 2006 rhino poaching in Kaziranga was brought under some
“However, last year poaching increased at an alarming
rate, with 20 rhinos killed in 2007. Despite increased funding, there
have already been four deaths in 2008.”
Ms Sherpherd suggests poaching has escalated in the
region as the market for rhino ivory has increased in China, for use in
traditional Chinese medicine and because the location of Kaziranga
National Park makes it particularly vulnerable and difficult to patrol.
The park is situated in the far eastern corner state of Assam, close to the Chinese border.
“Kaziranga National Park is a key pivotal area. Assam is
on the doorstep of the consumer market. It is easy for poachers to get
across the border and then into China, Thailand, and Myanmar. The park
is an obvious target,” she says.
Another problem is that the Bhamaputra river makes up
the Northern park boundary and is currently exploited by poachers to
gain access to the park, especially in the monsoon season.
INDIAN RHINONumbers have increased from 200 in 1900 to about 2,500 todayRhino horn, kilo-for-kilo, is five times more valuable than goldRhinos can reach speeds of 55km/h (34mph)Males mark their territory with dung piles measuring up to a metre highIndian rhinos have scent glands on their forefeet, and leave scent trails for other rhinos to smell
However, it is hoped a patrol boat, funded by a £62,000
donation from the BBC Wildlife Fund after Kaziranga’s rhinos were
featured on the BBC’s Saving Planet Earth series, will help provide
extra reinforcement to this problem.
The money is also going towards the ongoing project,
started in 1995, of equipping the 400 park rangers with radios so they
can report poaching incidents and call for reinforcements.
The ongoing conflict between rangers and poachers has claimed the lives of 60 people over the past 20 years.
Ms Shepherd says: “Bibhab and his team do the most amazing work fighting against sophisticated criminal well armed gangs.
“Despite losses, including his second in command who was
killed in action, they never give up. The Indian rhino’s future lies in
their hands and we must continue to support them.”
The world population of one-horned Indian rhino is
estimated to be 2,500 animals, three-quarters of these are found in
Kaziranga National Park. The species was once found throughout the
northern Indian sub-continent, but can now only be found in India and