THE LEAD STAR Outlets
Vol 6 Issue 27, Jul 3 - 9, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Indian rhinos facing threat of extinction: Experts

   By  Sanjeeb Baruah
   Guwahati
06 Jul 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:

A cool choice

Rayna Srivastava, a 16-year-old high school student from Texas, USA, spent her summer vacation teaching English at a girls’ home in Mumbai, even skipping a trip to Brazil, says Krishnaraj Rao

Read More

Winged visitors

Heralding the arrival of winter, migratory birds have started arriving in the wetlands of the Kashmir valley from Siberia, eastern Europe, China and the Philippines, says Sheikh Qayoom

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



Popular Stories

A grandpa’s story

At 97, Sudhanshu Biswas is a busy man. Taking care of 50 boys and 6 senior citizens, meticulously monitoring if they are served food on time and so on, at his home near Kolkata, he keeps visitors waiting. G Singh found the waiting worthwhile

Read More

Caring by habit

A Chennai woman’s simple gesture of donating the money she gets from selling old newspapers, collected from homes, to two orphanages is an inheritance from her parents, who always took care of poor youth at their home, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

From scratch

ConceptWaves is a successful company. But 10 years ago its founder Raghu Kanchustambham launched his first project as his team was falling apart. Sapna Gopal traces the entrepreneur’s journey

Read More

Lavender dream

Realising that medicine was not her calling, Gazalla Amin pursued a dream to cultivate aromatic plants, never to look back, says Afsana Rashid, explaining the blossoming of entrepreneurship

Read More

Fresh and sweet

A sweet idea struck the young Coorgi woman when she was working in a hotel. Chayaa Nanjappa never looked back, despite all odds, and today her Nectar Fresh products, like honey and jam, are stocked in upscale hotels. Preethi Nagaraj meets her

Read More

Care for birds

A computer engineer by calling, Arundhati Malhar Yatish Mhatre’s heart goes out to birds. Her passion is on display at her seventh floor flat in Mumbai, where winged visitors fly in for breakfast, lunch, dinner and rest, says Afsana Rashid

Read More

Ideal leader

You may not find a politician like K Viswanthan anywhere. In a decade he and his wife served as panchayat president, Kattuputhur in Tamil Nadu solved its water woe, turned green, plastic-free, tobacco-free and much more, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

Ideal home

Naatrangal has been a godsend to over a hundred destitute children. P C Vinoj Kumar visits the home run by Sharadha Devi in Kanchipuram to find the love and care provided there to be exemplary

Read More

Glorious service

Seeing a man from US dying of AIDS at a time when nothing much was known of the syndrome, changed Glory Alexander’s outlook. It made the doctor start Asha Foundation many years later to serve HIV positive people, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Forest maker

Touched by the death of hundreds of snakes in a flood, a school boy started planting trees. Now, 36 years later, we have a forest in that island on the Brahmaputra. Partho Burman tells us Jadav Payeng’s story of determination and dedication

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.