|Assam rhino poaching: 9 rhinos killed so far this year
February 19, 2013
Samantha Stainburn and Jason Overdorf
Assam state government has requested permission from India’s home
ministry to arm forest guards with AK-series rifles to fight rhino
NEW DELHI, India — The Assam state government has
requested permission from India’s home ministry to arm forest and
wildlife protection guards with AK-series rifles after poachers killed
a seventh rhino in Kaziranga National Park over the weekend, the Indian
Following a lull in rhino poaching at the end of
2012, nine rhinos have been killed across Assam so far this year,
according to the Indian Express.
In addition to the shootings in
Kaziranga, an 860-square-kilometer national park, poachers shot rhinos
in Orang National Park and Manas National Park.
"Yes, incidents of poaching have gone up in the past few weeks," said Assam Forest and Environment Minister Rockybull Hussain.
is alarming is that while earlier it was criminals and smugglers who
were involved in poaching of rhinos, recent incidents have revealed the
involvement of armed militant groups."
Rhino horn is now
literally worth more than gold in some parts of the world, where it is
considered to be a cure for ailments ranging from cancer to hangovers.
of rhinos are killed every year in Africa to feed Chinese demand, and
according to Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife
Protection Society of India, it was only a matter of time before
India's endangered rhino population was attacked.
are now more valuable than gold, and there's a definite, proven
connection between the rhinos and insurgents," said Wright.
that connection, however, arming forest guards with AK-47s may not be
the answer, reports GlobalPost's senior correspondent in India, Jason