Mother of newly born rhino calf killed by poachers in Manas National Park of India
Earlier, on 23rd March 2013, the calf was discovered by the monitoring team, and its mother’s carcass, with its horn and claws missing, was reported early morning on 3 rd April 2013. It was identified as Rhino 17 and was translocated to the Park in 2012.
Rhino 17 is the fourth translocated rhino to have been lost to poachers in Manas in the last two years and the 16th rhino killed in Assam so far this year. It was last seen alive on 28th March with its calf. Out of the 18 rhinos translocated to Manas National Park only 14 remain alive now. The rhinos had been translocated under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme (IRV 2020) - a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of Assam, WWF-India, the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the Bodoland Territorial Council and supported by a number of local organizations.
In spite of the support provided under IRV 2020 to Manas National Park to upgrade its infrastructure and monitoring capabilities to enable better protection for the translocated rhinos the poaching of rhinos is continuing unabated. After the previous poaching of a translocated rhino in Manas at the beginning of this year, a series of decisions were taken by the Assam Forest Department to strengthen security and patrolling in the National Park. However, they have not been able to stop poaching in Manas as is apparent from the latest incident.
The high demand for rhino horn from East Asian countries through the illegal wildlife trade continues to pose the greatest threat for the rhinos of Assam. After decades of conservation success which resulted in the population of rhinos in the state rising to approximately 2,400 currently, the spike in poaching over the last couple of years and the increasing use of sophisticated weapons to kill rhinos seems to indicate that poaching networks are strengthening. To avoid loss of these hard-fought gains it is imperative that urgent steps are taken by the government to implement immediate and more stringent protection measures in and around Manas National Park.