An adult female rhinoceros was reportedly killed by poachers at the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR) in Assam and its hornless carcass was found on Thursday, officials said.
This is the first incident of rhino poaching in nine months with the last such case being reported in April last year.
The park officials said that the carcass of the female rhino, aged around 30 years, was found by the forest staff of the Hilekhonda camp area inside tall elephant grass.
"It is a poaching case as the horn has been removed. The rhino was an adult female. The time of death appears to be more than 15 days ago," a park official said.
The forest officials have deployed sniffer dogs and a massive search operation is on to track the poachers.
Incidentally, the carcass was found a day after former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen praised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for curbing rhino poaching in Assam.
Poaching of rhinos and elephants for their horn and tusk had drastically reduced following a series of steps taken by the Assam Forest Department, including increase in the number of forest guards.
Assam witnessed a solitary case of rhino poaching last year, the lowest in 21 years.
Two rhinos were killed in 2020, three in 2019, seven in 2018 and six in 2017. In between 2013 and 2016, at least 89 rhinos were killed by the poachers with 27 each killed in 2013 and 2014.
The Assam government last year formed the Anti-Poaching Task Force (APTF) to curb rhino poaching in KNP & TR, one of India's seven UNESCO world heritage sites, which is spread across Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Karbi Anglong districts in Assam.
Assam presently has an estimated population of 2,640 Indian one-horn rhinos.
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