Poaching for horns major challenge faced by rhinos in Assam, says forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya (India)

By September 22, 2020Anti-poaching

Indian Rhino female with offspring, Kaziranga National Park. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Prabin Kalita, The Times of India | September 21, 2020

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GUWAHATI: On the eve of World Rhino Day, Assam forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya on Monday said that the major challenge faced by rhinos in Assam is poaching for their horns.“Due to continuous anti-poaching efforts of Government of Assam and state forest department, the trend of poaching had started coming down from 2016 where the number of rhinos poached in a year came down from 22 in 2016 to only 3 in 2019,” Suklabaidya said.

Of the five species of rhinos found in the world today, Assam hosts the largest population of Great Indian One-horned Rhino. “The population trend shows a continuous increase in the number of Great Indian One-horned Rhino in Assam. During the latest census exercise conducted in 2018, a total of 2650 rhinos were found across the protected areas of Assam,” Suklabaidya added.

Sailendra Pandey, PRO to the forest minister said that “Notably, every year, almost a hundred rhinos die due to natural causes such as old age, diseases, in-fightings etc. These deaths are nature’s way of controlling the population and allowing the younger generation and stronger individuals to replace the ones that have already fulfilled their ecological destiny.

However, incidents of poaching often eliminate such young animals that could have benefitted the population dynamics in favour of the species survival. By bringing down poaching, Government of Assam has done the greatest service to Great One Horned Rhinoceros and to our mother earth.”

The World Rhino Day is observed every year on 22 September to celebrate the world’s five rhinoceros species, and to reflect on the challenges faced by them.

Pandey adds, “The World Rhino Day was first announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. The movement took off on a global scale both on online and offline platforms when Lisa Jane Campbell of Chishakwe Ranch in Zimbabwe and founder of Annamitici joined hands with creative director Rhishja Cota in 2011 to create a massive awareness to protect all five species of rhinos from extinction.”