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2022 Was A Poach-Free Year For Kaziranga’s Rhinos, A First Since 1977

A one-horned rhino in the Kaziranga National Park. Image credit: David Evison / Shutterstock.com

By Rachael Funnel, IFLScience | January 11, 2023

No rhinos in the Kaziranga National Park were lost to poaching in 2022, marking a first for the protected nature reserve since 1977. The reserve is the world’s largest for the great one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and is home to around 2,200 of them, making up the majority of their global population.

The park, in India’s Assam state, was given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, but according to a report from Reuters, experienced around 190 rhino deaths due to poaching between 2000 and 2021. The rate increased in 2013 and 2014, during which time around 27 rhinos were being killed annually.

Thanks to the hard work of task forces on the ground in Assam, the Kaziranga National Park didn’t lose a single rhino to poaching in 2022, which is reportedly a first for the region since 1977.

“Zero Poaching! 2022 was really special for our rhino conservation efforts. Not a single rhino being poached in 2022 & just 2 in 2021, the gentle giant is now much safer in Assam,” said Chief Minister for Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Twitter. “Kudos to @assamforest dept & @assampolice for their sincere efforts to protect the iconic animal.”

While a success for conservationists and rhinos alike, the achievement was only made possible thanks to the hard work of humans who arrested 58 poachers across the year. The animals are under threat from poaching due to the value of their horns, which are amputated and sold in illegal markets. Curiously, their horns appear to be shrinking in response to poaching.

Kaziranga National Park is one of the world’s most important wildlife sanctuaries and currently hosts two-thirds of the planet’s Indian rhinoceroses, whose population numbers are increasingly threatened by poaching and habitat destruction.

Despite the fact that the black market value of just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rhino horn is between $60,000 and $300,000, and that demand has never been higher, the Indian rhinoceros is apparently flourishing in Kaziranga.

2017 BBC documentary revealed that this particular sanctuary is one of the most high-tech in the world, featuring a militarized ranger force armed with effective weaponry, surveillance drones, wire traps, and motion sensors. It’s clear that the regional government takes great pride in their ability to protect their vulnerable animal species, and the stats from 2022 are a testament to their efforts.

Read the original story here.