Person of the Year 2015
Vol 6 Issue 8, Feb 20 - 26, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Indian rhinos facing threat of extinction: Experts

   By  Sanjeeb Baruah
   Guwahati
28 Feb 2015
Posted 15-Oct-2012
Vol 3 Issue 41

A thriving market in east and southeast Asia in illegal wildlife products, particularly among cultures that prize the rhino horn for its magical or medicinal qualities, are driving the rhinoceroses to extinction, say experts.

China, Vietnam and Thailand are major consumers of rhino horn, fuelling the mass killing of rhinos across their ranges in India and elsewhere, they said.

A one-horned rhino at Kaziranga National Park (Photo : Prabal Sarkar/ Wildlife Trust of India)

Assam's Kaziranga National Park, the world's last major refuge of one-horned rhino, saw two massive floods this year. The flooding of the Brahmaputra river wreaked havoc in the park first during July-August and again in September.

Over 600 animals died in the first wave, and about 130 more perished in the second. But not all were drowned. Some rhinos fleeing the flood fell victims to poachers.

"As the reward for rhino horn shot up, many ex-militants have joined the ranks," says a senior official of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), requesting anonymity.

"Use of automatic weapons is of particular concern, as it shows the poachers' increasing sophistication," he said.

Kaziranga, despite being one of the best-protected reserves in the country, faces a daunting task "because poachers are even ready to face the bullet", said Tito Joseph of the NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

The 800-plus sq km Kaziranga park, is a world heritage site and is home to elephants, tigers, slow loris and swamp deer, among others.

This year, 15 rhinoceroses were killed in the Kaziranga landscape, said Joseph.

"Poachers cut the tail and ear of the rhino to prove to the buyers that the horn is genuine," he said.

"We believe the rhino horns from recent poaching are still in the country," the WCCB official said.

Border guards and other enforcement agencies have been alerted, he said.

Dimapur town in Nagaland is a hub of this trade, and from there rhino horns are trafficked through Myanmar out of the country.

"China and Vietnam don't have rhinoceroses, hence they source the rhino horn from India. Traditionally, these markets depended on Africa but a new source was always welcome," the official said.

South Africa, another major rhino range country, which earns huge revenues from wildlife tourism, has lost over 400 rhinos to poaching since January.

Despite best security measures in sanctuaries like Kruger National Park, poaching continues.

"This shows the money poachers are being offered," said Joseph. "Rising income of the middle class in consumer countries is fuelling the rhino horn trade," he said.

"Many of these countries do have laws to prevent the sale of wildlife articles, but their enforcement is often lax," said Joseph.

The rhino horn is made up of calcium, melanin and keratin, the same substance as human hair and nails. Calcium deposits make the horn core stronger, and melanin protects the core from the sun's UV rays, experts say.

But some cultures prize the rhino horn for magical qualities, while others used them as dagger handles or good luck charms.

The one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is today found only in India and Nepal. It has been exterminated in Bangladesh. India, with some 2,500 rhinoceroses, is their main home. Nepal has about 370 rhinos.

The African black and white rhinos are bigger bodied compared to their Asian counterparts, but they are equally threatened.

It is estimated that the trade in wildlife body parts is only third to arms and narcotics, a grim reminder of the threats rhinos face. - IANS



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

Now, graded zoos

Do you know which is India's best zoo? Soon you will, with the authorities planning to grade the nearly 200 zoos in the country based on their performance on different scales, says Richa Sharma

Read More

Rural hero

Narayan Bhide, whose leg was amputated 15 years ago, has set up a BPO in his village giving jobs to those rejected by the so-called reputed companies or those with average academic background

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Green cobblers

Inspired by a man making sandals out of used tyres in the US, Jay Rege and Jothsna came to India to turn eco-conscious shoemakers, launching ‘Paaduks’. The social entrepreneurs also share their profit with their cobblers, says Rohan Potdar

Read More

Sandy wonders

If the word Goa evokes just images of raves, read on, you may end up in the land of sandy wonders soon. For, Renuka Singh’s list of the top 10 beaches informs us that Goa has something on offer for everyone, including those seeking solitude

Read More

Saving girls

Her first attempt to save a 12-year-old girl from the clutches of an abusive father failed. But that propelled Renu Singh to turn a crusader for gender justice and rescue about 3,800 girls and women in over three decades, says Partho Burman

Read More

Milky boom

The success of Milky Mist, a dairy company, is a story linked to the big dreams of T Sathish Kumar, a class 8 drop out. P C Vinoj Kumar tells us how a 16-year-old turned his father’s floundering business around by giving it a new identity

Read More

Missing Nobel

Winner of many awards for his social work in Mumbai slums, Jockin Arputham missed the Nobel Peace in 2014. But for people whose life he changed through his dedication, he is indeed an ‘arputham’ (miracle, in Tamil), says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Saviour on street

Whatever job he was in, S M Venkatesh saved abandoned people from the streets. Now, his Agal Foundation works with Helpage India, responding to distress calls, quickly and efficiently, as P C Vinoj Kumar found through a snap sting operation

Read More

Saving children

Starting with a night shelter for children of sex workers, Prerana has come a long way providing support to women stuck in Mumbai’s red light district. Kavita Kanan Chandra retraces Priti Patkar’s 28-year journey that has saved many a child

Read More

Good ball

To counter ‘guns and drugs’, a culture that he saw abroad, Chetan Misra mentors children through football, which he believes is a tool for social and holistic development. Through ‘TheFootballLink’, he promotes the game, says Partho Burman

Read More

Bringing water

By reviving a traditional irrigation system, using modern techniques, an NGO, Gramya Vikash Manch, has channeled water to three parched districts of Assam, raising hopes of a bumper harvest

Read More

Goals to score

From behind the veil, a group of Muslim girls in Mumbra dreamt big and have realised it. First, they learnt playing football, against all odds, and have set up a club. Now they have plans for intellectual pursuits, says Kamayani Bali-Mahabal

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.