Person of the Year
Vol 7 Issue 6, Feb 5 - 11, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Indian rhinos facing threat of extinction: Experts

   By  Sanjeeb Baruah
   Guwahati
11 Feb 2016
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:

Wall cleaning

Walls of Dehradun are getting a facelift. Posters are scrubbed off and pleasing murals are painted, thanks to the ongoing ‘Let’s Clean Doon Together campaign’. Jodie Underhill, who is part of the effort, explains the campaign’s ups and downs

Read More

Immunity issue

Preet Bharara could not do to 49 Russians, charged earlier with scamming a health care scheme, what he did to Devyani Khobragade just because they enjoy diplomatic immunity, says Arun Kumar

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Water saver

The innovation by Uttam Banerjee is a godsend to the country that needs to go in for water conservation in a big way. Fitting Zerodor, a polymeric wall, to ceramic urinals would save 50,000 to 1,51,000 litres of water, says Narendra Kaushik

Read More

Space to farm

In the US, Rikin Gandhi aspired to be an astronaut but landed in the pastoral fields of India to develop Digital Green, an initiative that helps farmers. He now feels “people can choose agriculture and be prosperous.” Partho Burman reports

Read More

Master potter

In a government school in Tamil Nadu, students are not just taught but trained to be achievers. Like a potter churning vessels from clay, the headmaster M Karunanithi shapes children from poor homes for big things. P C Vinoj Kumar checks out

Read More

People’s monk

The Roti Bank, started by Tara Patkar and few others, has brought down begging in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. Narendra Kaushik tells us the story of the journalist-turned social activist who is changing the lives of the local people

Read More

PM’s couturiers

Do you know Jitendra and Bipin Chauhan? Well, you will if we introduce them as the Prime Minister’s personal tailors. The brothers, however, came up the hard way after their father suddenly took to sanyas. P C Vinoj Kumar has their life story

Read More

Living raconteur

Preserving a dying tradition of story-telling in this digital age, Deepa Kiran enthralls people, mainly school children, with her multiple skills. S Sainath profiles the woman from Hyderabad who can explain the power of 2 using a chessboard

Read More

The app man

A school teacher from Rajasthan was toasted by the Prime Minister at the Wembley Stadium during his UK visit. Partho Burman has the story of the self-taught Imran Khan who has developed 54 education apps, besides some websites, all for free

Read More

Walking tall

A matchstick factory sacked him when he joined the communist party and fought for employee rights, but VKC Mammed Koya, a class seven dropout went on to build a footwear brand that’s now making Rs 1500 crore turnover, says Renitha Raveendran

Read More

Road fixer

In the family that names children after freedom fighters, it was natural that he was called Gangadhara Tilak. But he continued the tradition of being a do-gooder, filling up potholes on roads, spending his own money and time, says S Sainath

Read More

Bridging villages

Boatman Sheikh Lalchand of Kulia village in Howrah district has singlehandedly built a bamboo bridge across River Mudeswari, connecting people of three panchayats with the mainland. And the bridge has been rightly named after him, says G Singh

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.