This week, the greater one-horned rhino is in the news.
A smuggling gang is in custody in Nepal, while India has deployed a new weapon in the fight to protect its rhinos.
Arrests in Nepal
Nepal’s eKantipur reported that five people were arrested near Chitwan National Park for attempting to sell a rhino horn.
The gang is believed to be involved with a larger wildlife smuggling operation.
In Nepal, rhino crimes generally do not languish in the court system. Sentencing is done by the District Forest Office, which has a track record of administering tough penalties.
For example, in May 2010, Chitwan National Park officials handed out prison sentences to 16 rhino poachers. Three received ten years in jail, one received 14 years, and the remaining twelve are spending 15 years in prison.
Second loss in Pobitora
Tragedy struck for the second time this year in Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, where the body of a female rhino was found with her horn missing.
Prior to June 2011, Pobitora’s rhinos had enjoyed five years of peace.
However, a new weapon has been deployed to help solve this case.
Sniffer dog on the case
The killing in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary marks the first time that a sniffer dog has been utilized on a rhino crime in India.
A Belgian Malinois named “Jorba” has already provided leads in the case, according to The Telegraph.
This dog breed is used extensively for police and military work in the US and Europe. The New York Times speculated that a Belgian Mailnois was part of the US Navy SEAL raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan earlier this year.
Jorba has been trained to detect wildlife products, including ivory.
Kaziranga National Park opening date
Assam’s world-famous Kaziranga National Park is scheduled to re-open for tourists on November 1st, following the end of the annual four-month monsoon break.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds over 70% of the planet’s greater one-horned rhino population.
Greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis)
Greater one-horned rhinos (also called the Indian, Nepalese and great Asian rhino) were once widespread throughout the northern floodplains and nearby foothills of the Indian sub-continent between the Indo-Myanmar border in the east, and Sindh River basin, Pakistan in the west.
Today, the remaining greater one-horned rhinos are found only in a few protected areas in northeastern India and lowland Nepal.
Thanks to the worldwide ban on rhino horn trade and conservation efforts, this Asian species has recovered from a low of less than 200 individuals to 2,949 today.
Learn more about how you can help greater one-horned rhinos at Indian Rhino Vision 2020, a global partnership of the International Rhino Foundation, Save the Rhino International, Aaranyak and WWF-India.
Photo #1 by Bocardodarapti (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons; #2 by Pleple2000 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons.