Agence France Presse
November 20, 2000
KAZIRANGA, India - Forest rangers in India's northeastern state
of Assam have shot dead a Bhutanese national, suspected to be part
of an international rhino poaching gang, wildlife officials Monday
The man was killed early Sunday morning in Assam's Kaziranga National
Park -- home to the last major concentration of one-horned rhinoceros
in the world.
Park warden Parthasarathi Das said five poachers had been spotted
by a ranger patrol as they were laying a rhino trap.
"On being challenged by the poachers, the forest guards fired
at them killing one of the poachers," Das said.
A driving license recovered from the body identified the poacher
as Karma Drukpa from Bhutan.
"He was believed to have been involved in this international
rhino horn poaching racket," Das told AFP.
The remaining four poachers managed to escape.
There are an estimated 2,500 one-horned rhinos left in the world,
of which 1,600 live in in Kaziranga.
Poaching has been prevalent in the park for decades.
Powerful and extremely wealthy syndicates pay local hunters amounts
ranging from 30,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees (700-1,100 dollars)
for each horn, which can then fetch 1.5 million rupees per kilogram
on the international market.
The horn of a full-grown rhino weighs as much as two kilograms
The horn is prized among Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Singapore,
Taiwan, and Thailand for its supposed aphrodisiac qualities.
"It has now been proved beyond doubt that some international
poaching syndicate is operating in league with some local poachers
from Assam and neighbouring state of Nagaland," said Das.
"We have put our guards on a maximum alert and shall see to
it that there is no more poaching."
More than 20 poachers have been shot dead by Kaziranga forest guards
in the past five years.