Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Bid to save poacher-attack rhino

A rare one-horned rhino has been wounded by poachers in north-east India (AP)
A rare one-horned rhino has been wounded by poachers in north-east India (AP)

Veterinarians are struggling to save the life of a rare rhinoceros which was shot and had its horn cut off after it wandered out of a flooded national park in north-eastern India.

The attack on the one-horned rhino by poachers sparked outrage in the state of Assam, home to the world's largest concentration of the rare rhino.

Footage of the bleeding rhino with its horn removed and a cut to its ear were broadcast on local television.

"It is a sad day for Assam. I am appalled at the fact that poachers could get away with the horn of a live rhino," said environmentalist Somyadeep Dutta.

Heavy rain across Assam has caused flooding in recent days which has killed 18 people and forced 1.4 million to flee their homes.

Much of the 185 square mile Kaziranga National Park was also flooded, drowning two rhinos and at least a dozen other animals, mostly deer, said Suresh Chand, Assam's chief wildlife warden.

Many other animals migrated to higher ground. The rhino was one of them, leaving the park for a highland across a busy road, where trailing guards lost track of it, said Mr Chand.

The rhino was then shot by poachers, who removed its horn while it was still alive. Powdered rhino horn is coveted in some Asian countries as a medicine or an aphrodisiac and its popularity has led to a rise in rhino poaching. Veterinarians were rushed to the rhino's side to try to save its life, said Mr Chand.

An estimated 2,500 of the world's 3,000 one-horned rhinos live in Kaziranga. A total of 13 have been killed by poachers around the park in the past nine months, a trend that has caused concerns among environmental groups.

Environmentalist Mr Dutta demanded a probe into the incident by India's Central Bureau of Investigation. He said: "The existence of organised poaching syndicates has only been proved by this gruesome incident."

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