Park rangers and poachers are gunning each other down over the Indian rhino

Indian Rhino
CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia

In the species' stronghold in Kaziranga National Park

Unlike the Western black rhino, which was last seen in 2006 and is now officially extinct, the Indian rhino has a fighting chance of surviving for the longer term thanks to conservation and anti-poaching efforts which have led to a rebound in population since 2006.

The Indian rhino is classified as a 'vulnerable' species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. With about 3,000 individuals living in the wild, and about 2/3 of those living in India's state of Assam, one of the biggest risks they face is poaching. During the past decade, poachers and park rangers have actually been fighting each other quite literally, with 27 poachers being killed and 198 arrested. 156 rhinos have been killed in Assam since 2006.

Trivia: The Indian rhino is the 5th largest land animal after the African bush elephant, the Asian elephant, the African forest elephant, and the White rhino.

Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Note that on the map above, the large area is the historical range. The small red dots show the range as of 1997. Hopefully since then things have improved a bit, but we're far from what it was...

The good news is that the conservation and anti-poaching efforts are bearing fruit. Indian rhino population in Kaziranga National Park in Assam is up 27% since 2006, or up about 4.6% a year, for a population of 2544 individuals.

“Rhino poaching is an international phenomenon and we are working wholeheartedly to stop it. It is because of this that we have sought help from experts from Nepal and even South Africa to help us meet the challenges,” Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said. “When I took charge of the department, the one-horned rhino was tagged as an endangered species. But with its population increase, in spite of incidents of poaching, the endangered tag has been lifted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is now bracketed under the vulnerable category.”

Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Via Wildlife News

Tags: Animals | Endangered Species | India

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