On the black market rhino horns can be sold for upwards of $6000.
It is believed that Rhino horns provide miracle cures for anything from cancer to erectile dysfunction. This is the reason that rhinos are such a huge target for poachers.
Kaziranga National Park is a story of success when it comes to conservation of rhinos. A century ago, there was only a handful of Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Now, the park hosts more than 2,400, which is two-thirds of the world’s population.
In 2013, when the number of rhinos killed by poachers more than doubled to 27, local politicians demanded action. The then head of the park was happy to oblige.
The solution, the Park allows its workers to shoot and even kill potential poachers. At one stage the park rangers were killing an average of two people every month – more than 20 people a year. Indeed, in 2015 more people were shot dead by park guards than rhinos were killed by poachers.
The government has granted the guards at Kaziranga extraordinary powers that give them considerable protection against prosecution if they shoot and kill people in the park.
The director of the park, Dr Satyendra Singh, talks about the difficulties of tackling poachers in the park, explaining that the poaching gangs recruit local people to help them get into the park but that the actual “shooters” – the men who kill the rhinos – tend to come from neighbouring states.
He says the term “shoot-on-sight” does not accurately describe how he orders the forest rangers to deal with suspected poachers.
“First we warn them – who are you? But if they resort to firing we have to kill them. First we try to arrest them, so that we get the information, what are the linkages, who are others in the gang?”
More people were shot dead by park guards then the number of rhinos killed by poachers
National park’s workers can kill a person and get away with impunity
These people all went after rhino horn, as they could be sold for as much as $6,000 for 100g
Now, the park hosts more than 2,400, which is two-thirds of the world’s population
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