GUWAHATI, Jan 8 � Use of animal parts including rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine increased the demand for the same and the poachers and even some militant groups are taking advantage of it to earn huge amounts of money. Despite a series of steps taken by the Forest Department, the killing of rhinos could not be stopped and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has already started investigation into the incidents of poaching.
According to Government records alone, around 170 rhinos were killed in Assam since 2001 and of those, 41 were killed in the year 2013 alone, while during the same time, more than a thousand rhinos died natural death. Most of the rhinos were killed in the Kaziranga National Park, but a few also fell prey to the bullets of the poachers in Manas National Park, Pabitora Wild Life Sanctuary and Orang.
Sources in the CBI told The Assam Tribune that a few cases of rhino killings in Kaziranga were registered in a Delhi branch of the CBI, while, three more cases have recently been registered in the Kolkata office of the Bureau.
Meanwhile, security sources said that involvement of militants in poaching of rhinos has been confirmed. Sources said that there was definite proof of involvement of militants from Karbi Anglong in poaching in Kaziranga and according to intercepts received by the security agencies, one particular militant leader himself sold eight rhino horns to the clandestine dealers based in Dimapur. The intercepts also proved that as kidnappings to earn money was becoming dangerous, the militants started looking for easier ways of earning money and poaching of rhinos was one of the ways found by them, while, the soaring demand and prices also resulted in increasing interest among the militant groups.
Sources said that the horns of the rhinos were handed over to clandestine dealers in Dimapur and each horn fetched at least Rs 20 lakh. The clandestine arms dealers were also involved in dealing in rhino horns and according to information available with the security agencies, the horns were transported to Myanmar, from where those were sent to China. Interestingly, the routes used to bring in weapons from Myanmar are used to send out rhino horns.
Meanwhile, there has been world wide concern over the use of animal parts in traditional Chinese medicines and according to a report of the Animal Rights Action Group, parts of as many as 36 animals including those of endangered animals are used in traditional Chinese medicines. The most commonly used animal parts include rhino horns and tiger. The report further said that the poaching also increased natural deaths of rhinos as because of poaching, a number of young rhinos were orphaned and they are too young to fend for themselves.