September 26, 2012
Northeast India is home to several rare and endangered animal species, which means that Northeast India is also home to poachers. With floods ravaging Assam and other northeastern states and displacing some 2 million people, poachers appear to be using the opportunity to murder animals.
The rhino was wounded when shot and had its horn cut off after it wandered out of Kaziranga national park, which has been inundated by flood waters. … The rhino was one of many animals that moved to higher ground to escape the deluge. Guards lost track of it as it approached an elevated highway out of the park, Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Chand told the Associated Press news agency. The rhino was then shot by a group of poachers who afterwards cut off its horn, Mr. Chand said.
Poachers have killed 13 rhinos around the park in the past nine months, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, poachers killed a 6-year-old female Royal Bengal tiger in her cage at a zoo in Arunachal Pradesh, according to a report in Mid-Day from Arunachal’s capital Itanagar. “The incident happened when guards had gone out for dinner.”
Because that’s what you do when you’re a guard; you go out for dinner and leave the tiger unguarded. It’s hard to say why poachers are still able to get away with killing animals, and it’s even harder to say how many of these incidents they were able to prevent. As long as rhino horns and other illegal spoils of these killings remain valuable, it looks like someone will find a way (did you ever think that keratin would be so valuable that you’d pay for someone to shoot a rhinoceros?). What I would like to know: what do people think will happen when the thing they need runs out? Do they think about it?
It’s not an idle question. There are about 2,000 rhinos in Assam, according to the Wikipedia report that I linked to above, which is a big improvement from an estimated 366 in 1966, but a long way from what the population once was. It’s highly unlikely that 2,000 rhinos is enough to keep the aphrodisiac market in business for long.