Rhino poaching in Assam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Rhino poaching in Assam is one of the major environmental issues in India which continues in the region of Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park and some other grasslands of Assam. The one horn rhino or Indian rhino is surviving in the north-east corner of India, Assam. Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora in Marigaon district and Orang National Park in Darrang district of Assam account almost 95% of the total wild One horned rhino in the world. These rhinos are inhabited most of the floodplain of the Indogangetic and Brahmaputra riverine tracts and the neighboring foothills.

The one horn rhino of Assam

In early days[edit]

Moghul emperor Babur on a rhino hunt, 16th century

Sport hunting became common in the late 1800s and early 1900s.[1] Indian rhinos were hunted relentlessly and persistently. Reports from the middle of the 19th century claim that some military officers in Assam individually shot more than 200 rhinos. By 1908, the population in Kaziranga had decreased to around 12 individuals.[2] In the early 1900s, the species had declined to near extinction.[1]

Poaching for rhinoceros horn became the single most important reason for the decline of the Indian rhino after conservation measures were put in place from the beginning of the 20th century, when legal hunting ended. From 1980 to 1993, 692 rhinos were poached in India. In India's Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary 41 rhinos were killed in 1983, virtually the entire population of the sanctuary.[3] By the mid-1990s, poaching had rendered the species extinct there.[4]

Methods of poaching[edit]

Six methods of killing rhinos have been recorded:[3]

  • Shooting is by far the most common method used; rhino horn traders hire sharpshooters and often supply them with rifles and ammunition.
  • Trapping in a pit depends largely on the terrain and availability of grass to cover it; pits are dug out in such a way that a fallen animal has little room to manoeuvre with its head slightly above the pit, so that it is easy to saw off the horn.
  • Electrocuting is used where high voltage powerlines pass through or near a protected area, to which poachers hook a long insulated rod connected to a wire, which is suspended above a rhino path.
  • Poisoning by smearing zinc phosphide rat poison or pesticides on salt licks frequently used by rhinos.
  • With a noose, which cuts through the rhino's skin and kills it by strangulation.

Reasons[edit]

Illegal rhino horn trade has been the main problem facing managers of the rhino-protected areas of Assam. Some other parts like nails, skins have very high value in Asian traditional medicinal market. According to research by Traffic (conservation programme) and World Wide Fund for Nature, some Vietnamese buyers believe horn to be a cure for cancer when ground to a fine powder. According to a survey conducted by World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa, it is kept by wealthy people in Vietnam as a "peace of mind" cure.

In 1993, rhino horn was removed from the official lists of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is now only sold in Viet Nam following an unsubstantiated rumour that horn cured a high ranking official in Vietnam of cancer.[5]

Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation, on Friday urged the Assam government not to take dehorning of rhinos as a measure to protect them from poachers.[6]

Statistics[edit]

The following table shows the nos. poached rhino in Assam hunted since from 1962.:[7]

Year Kaziranga Manas Orang Pobitora Laokhowa Other areas in Assam Year-wise Total
1962 1 - - - - - 1
1963 1 - - - - - 1
1964 0 - - - - - 0
1965 18 1 - - - - 19
1966 6 0 - - - - 6
1967 12 0 - - - - 12
1968 9 0 - - - - 9
1969 8 0 - - - - 8
1970 2 0 - - - - 2
1971 8 1 - - - - 9
1972 0 0 - - - - 0
1973 3 0 - - - - 3
1974 3 0 - - - - 3
1975 5 0 - - - - 5
1976 1 4 - - - - 5
1977 0 0 - - - - 0
1978 5 1 - - - - 6
1979 2 5 2 0 6 0 15
1980 11 0 3 0 1 3 18
1981 24 2 2 0 6 4 38
1982 25 1 5 0 5 8 44
1983 37 3 4 0 41[3] 7 92
1984 28 4 3 4 0 6 45
1985 44 1 8 2 0 1 56
1986 45 1 3 0 0 4 52
1987 23 7 4 2 0 7 43
1988 24 1 5 4 1 9 44
1989 44 6 3 3 3 8 64
1990 35 2 0 2 0 6 45
1991 23 3 1 1 0 1 29
1992 49 11 2 3 0 2 67
1993 40 22 1 4 0 3 68
1994  ?  ?  ? 4  ?  ? 14
1995  ?  ?  ? 2  ?  ? 27
1996  ?  ?  ? 5  ?  ? 26
1997  ?  ?  ? 3  ?  ? 12
1998 8  ?  ? 4  ?  ? 12
1999 4  ?  ? 6  ?  ? 10
2000 14  ?  ? 2  ?  ? 15
2001 9  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 10
2002 5  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 6
2003 6  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 8
2004 5  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 5
2005 12  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 15
2006 6  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 9
2007  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 20
2008  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 16
2009  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 14
2010  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 18
2011  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 8
2012  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 26
2013  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 28
2014 35 3  ?  ?  ?  ? 38
2015 3  ?  ?  ?  ?  ? 3

Preventive measures taken by Government[edit]

Dehorning rhinos[edit]

The forest department of Assam took a proposal of dehorning rhino to save it from poachers on February, 2014.[8] The Government of Assam also called for public opinion by a committee headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) could take a decision. But many environmentalists and NGO's oppose the proposal. [9] The final decision of the committee is not declared till May, 2014.


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Talukdar, B. K., Emslie, R., Bist, S. S., Choudhury, A., Ellis, S., Bonal, B. S., Malakar, M. C., Talukdar, B. N. Barua, M. (2008). "Rhinoceros unicornis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ Laurie, W.A.; Lang, E. M.; Groves, C.P. (1983). "Rhinoceros unicornis". Mammalian Species (American Society of Mammalogists) (211): 1–6. doi:10.2307/3504002. JSTOR 3504002. 
  3. ^ a b c Menon, V. (1996) Under siege: Poaching and protection of Greater One-horned Rhinoceroses in India. TRAFFIC India
  4. ^ Foose, T. and van Strien, N. (1997). Asian Rhinos – Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, UK. ISBN 2-8317-0336-0. 
  5. ^ Pederson, Stephanie. "Continued Poaching Will Result in the Degradation of Fragile Ecosystems". The International. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  6. ^ "‘Dehorning not the solution to rhino poaching’". March 15, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ Forest Department of Assam
  8. ^ "Assam to dehorn rhinos to save them". Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Environmentalists oppose Assam govt's move to dehorn rhino". The Times of India. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.