Forest guards have shot dead two rhino poachers in India’s northeastern state of Assam.
The two poachers “allegedly involved in the recent killings of rhinos” were shot dead by the guards on Wednesday after being spotted in anti-poaching camps inside the park, said Niranjan Kumar Vasu, director of Kaziranga National Park.
Forest guards killed the two following an exchange of gunfire while other poachers fled the scene.
Poachers have been responsible for the recent surge in killings of one-horned rhinoceroses in Assam. According to authorities, poachers undermine anti-poaching camps by “sneaking in” and using all sorts of tactics to capture the animals for their horns, including digging traps, electrocution and gunshots.
Heavily-armed poachers “shoot dead a rhino and vanish within minutes after removing its horn,” Mr. Vasu said.
Assam’s four national parks account for 80% of the world’s nearly 3,000 one-horned species, The Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time reports. There are currently 2,290 rhinos in Kaziranga National Park, which is a world heritage site and has the world’s single largest population of one-horned rhinos.
Earlier this month, a rhino was shot dead and stripped of its horn in Kaziranga, the second to be killed by poachers in a week and twelfth this year, according to Mr. Vasu.
“This is an alarming situation,” said Dipankar Ghose, a New Delhi-based rhino conservation expert at the World Wildlife Fund. “The soaring demand for rhino horns in China and Vietnam is driving the slaughter”.