Third relocated rhino killed in Assam

New Delhi: A third relocated rhino has been poached in Manas sanctuary in Assam, causing concern among conservationists and prompting World Wildlife Fund(WWF), partners in the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 programme, to question the sincerity of the state forest department in protecting the endangered animal.
The discovery of the crime comes close on the heels of the recovery of two carcasses of rhinos, with horns cut off, in Morigaon and Sonitpur districts of the state on January 11.
On Sunday, the WWF-India’s field team identified the poached rhino as Rhino 2, which was translocated to Manas from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2008.
“The rhino is believed to have been killed with automatic weapons, though it is to be confirmed,” Amit Sharma, Coordinator, Rhino Conservation of WWF-India told UNI over phone from Guwahati on Monday.
As many as 18 rhinos had been translocated to Manas, and out of these three had been poached in a span of 18 months.
“It seems that the authorities of the Manas National Park, and the State Forest Department, have not learnt lessons from the earlier poaching incidents and as a result one more rhino has been lost,” the WWF said.
The first rhino carcass was recovered in October 2011, that of Rhino 1 which was translocated from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary as well.
The second carcass, that of Rhino 12 was located on in May last.
The site where the carcass of the third relocated rhino has been located is within 3km of three anti-poaching camps, namely Bhatgali, Kahibari and Fort, which shows that the patrolling supposed to be carried out by the frontline staff of the Park posted in these camps was not being carried out effectively, the WWF said.
According to the wildlife conservation NGO, the radio-collar fitted on this rhino appears to have fallen off in November, which meant that it could no longer be monitored remotely, and since then, it had became imperative to conduct regular elephant and foot patrols to ensure security for this rhino.
This rhino was last located by a WWF-India field team on 31 December 2012. Following this, efforts were on by the frontline staff of the Park to track the animal but these were found to be insufficient and ultimately it fell prey to poachers, the NGO said in a statement here.
“WWF is increasingly concerned about the level of commitment of the Assam State Forest Department and the Bodoland Territorial Council in providing protection to the translocated rhinos in Manas,” it said.
These rhinos had been translocated to Manas under the aegis of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020, a joint programme of the Assam State Forest Department, Bodoland Territorial Council, International Rhino Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service and WWF-India.
The WWF, however, said, the primary responsibility of ensuring the security of the translocated rhinos rested with the State Government and its various departments and without their full attention to this, there was a danger that the vision of Indian Rhino Vision 2020 would not be achieved.
“We call upon the Assam state government, the State Forest Department and the Bodoland Territorial Council, to take exemplary action so that these kind of unlawful incidents are averted in future,” it said. (UNI)

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