The rare Indian rhinoceros is not safe from poachers even in national parks.
In Nepal’s world renowned Royal Chitwan National Park, twenty-four Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) have been poached since the last census was taken in 2008. The most recent one was killed last Thursday. Approximately 372 Indian rhinos survive in the park, and the population is in decline.
The world’s largest population of Indian rhinos (just under 2,000) survive in Kaziranga National Park in the Indian state of Assam. But Kaziranga has lost five rhinos to poachers just this year.Last year fourteen rhinos were killed by poachers.
Across the world, poaching continues unabated in Africa. Kruger National Park lost eight white rhinos recently, totaling 93 rhinos poached in a three-year-period.
The Indian rhino is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. The primary threat to Indian rhinos is poaching, while the second most pressing issue is habitat degradation.
Rhinos are poached for their horn, which has been used in traditional Asian medicines for thousands of years. However, scientific studies have found no proof that rhino horn is an effective medicine.
Historically Indian rhinos spread across the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Their population dropped to under 200 due to unrestrained hunting before rebounding after protections were put in place. As of May 2007, 2,575 Indian rhinos remain.
(02/14/2010) Last week the secretary of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Willem Wijnstekers, announced that security forces in Zimbabwe had poached approximately 200 rhinos in a two year period. He did say how many elephants were poached by security forces.
(11/25/2009) Rhino poaching has hit a fifteen-year high, and the rising price for black-market rhino horn is likely the reason why. For the first time in a decade rhino horn is worth more than gold: a kilo of rhino horn is worth approximately 60,000 US dollars while gold is a little over 40,600 US dollars.
(09/10/2009) In July national parks in South Africa lost 26 white rhinos and one black rhino to poachers, bringing the total rhinos lost to in South Africa to 84 this year alone. The situation has led Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica to call for an integrative approach to the crisis.