Rhino census

Published: Saturday 15 May 1993

-- The number of one-horned rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park has risen to 1,160 from 1,129 in 1991, Assam state wildlife officials say. But Assam's principal conservator of forests (wildlife) in Assam, K K Baruah, concedes the number of rhinos killed by poachers in Kaziranga has increased greatly in recent years. Forty-four rhinos were killed at Kaziranga in 1989, 35 in 1990, 28 in 1991, 48 in 1992 and Baruah says, preliminary estimates suggest 15 rhinos were killed in January and February this year.

Most rhinos are killed for their horns, which command high prices internationally because of their supposed aphrodisiac qualities. A kilogram of Indian rhino horn fetches nearly Rs 12 lakh in Singapore and Rs 30 lakh in West Asian countries.

Baruah says two more platoons of the forest guards have been assigned to Kaziranga and civil, police and administrative officials of the Assam government have evolved detailed counter-poaching steps. He would not disclose details, however, saying such disclosures would hamper their objective.

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