Kaziranga National Park’s greater one-horned rhinos are safer today, following an exchange of gunfire between authorities and armed rhino killers, which left one of the assailants dead.
According to India Blooms news, the incident occurred near the Bagori range of the park. Police also recovered a .303 rifle and live ammunition.
Less than a week ago, two members of a rhino-killing gang were arrested in the Biswanathghat area of Kaziranga National Park, thanks to a joint operation of Assam Police and Assam Rifles.
The suspects — caught with a .303 rifle and live ammunition — were identified as Dilowar Hussain and Altaf Hussain.
Suspect arrested with ten rhino horns
Ten rhino horns and an elephant tusk were seized and a Vietnamese national was taken into custody after police raided a home in the Johannesburg suburb of Bedfordview.
Eyewitness News reported that in addition to the horns and tusk, R20 million (US $2.4 million) in cash was confiscated.
Vietnamese nationals have been implicated in a number of rhino horn smuggling incidents in South Africa.
However, South African safari operators have also been willing accomplices in “pseudo hunts”, which use legal rhino hunts as a front for bogus “clients” to run rhino horn to illegal markets.
For example, CITES records indicate that 62 rhino horns and 37 rhino trophies (both horns) were exported to Vietnam from South Africa in 2009.
2010 figures were reported as 91 rhino horns and 20 rhino trophies to Vietnam.
For more information about South Africa’s trophy hunt scheme, check out:
- Rhino Horns and Trophies Exported to Asia from South Africa 2000 — 2010 [Infographic]
- Mules Hunting Rhinos? Sinister Scam Unfolds in South Africa
Another safari operator arrested
South Africa’s Carte Blanche reported earlier this year that Claassens was under investigation, along with Steyl.
The syndicate is believed to be dealing in lion bones and skeletons as well.
At least 210 rhinos have been massacred in South Africa this year, according to last week’s figures released by the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs.
Protecting Asian rhinos
Did you know that the total of all three Asian rhino species (just over 3,000) is still less than Africa’s critically endangered black rhino (4,860)?
Rhishja is the founder of Annamiticus, a nonprofit organization which provides educational information and news about wildlife crime and endangered species. She is the Editor of the blogs Annamiticus, Rhino Horn is Not Medicine, and Project Pangolin, a Producer for the upcoming documentary "The Price", author of the book "Murder, Myths & Medicine", and host of the "Behind the Schemes" podcast. When Rhishja is not blogging about the illegal wildlife trade, she enjoys rocking out to live music.