Saving Rhinoceros

Posted on 18/10/2019 by Shubhobroto Ghosh

A major threat to the existence of rhinos is poaching for their horns. Rhino horns are used to make dagger handles in Yemen and to prepare aphrodisiac medicine in China.

Five species of rhinoceros

There are five species of rhinoceros in the world: three species found in Asia and two in Africa. The Great One-Horned Rhino, Sumatran Rhino, and Javan Rhino are found in Asia and the Black Rhino and White Rhino are found in Africa. The Great One-Horned Rhino is found in India and Nepal. Historically both the Sumatran Rhino and Javan Rhino were also found in India.

In India, Great One-Horned Rhinos are found in Kaziranga, Manas, Pobitora and Orang national parks in Assam and in Jaldapara and Gorumara national parks in West Bengal. From a tiny population of 75 in 1905 to around 3000 now, the rhino conservation effort in India has been a remarkable success. In 1986, the government of India gave rhinos the status of endangered species.

Sport hunting and the killing of rhinos

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, many rhinos lost their lives in India and Nepal due to sport hunting, whereby rich people killed rhinos for pleasure. As a result of this, the population of rhinos declined to around only 12 in Kaziranga National Park in 1908.

A major threat to the existence of rhinos is poaching for their horns. Rhino horns are used to make dagger handles in Yemen and to prepare aphrodisiac medicine in China.

Rhino Poaching

In January 2019 a Right To Information query was filed by a NOIDA based environmentalist regarding rhino poaching. In response, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau revealed that since 2008, 102 rhinos have been killed in India.

Poachers kill rhinos by a variety of methods: they shoot rhinos, electrocute rhinos, entrap and kill rhinos by digging pits, ensnaring them and kill them with pesticides. Rhinos are also losing habitat due to the growing human population and encroachment on their areas.

Rhinos in Assam have also suffered heavily from the insurgency in the area. Many groups have been working very hard to protect rhinos in India.

Increasing the number of rhinos

The government of Assam has been collaborating with NGOs for a Vision 2020 for the rhinos of Assam to increase the number of rhinos to 3000 in the state. World Animal Protection is working to prevent poaching of rhinos by raising awareness on the nature of rhino horn trade and the use of rhino horn in traditional Chinese medicine. Both governmental and non-governmental agencies are working to safeguard the habitat of rhinos in Assam and West Bengal as well as in Nepal.

A resue center in Kaziranga

There is a rescue center for rhinos in Kaziranga where orphaned rhinos and rhinos affected by floods are given a safe place to stay till the time they are released to their natural habitat. As part of the vision 2020 program, NGOs and the Assam forest department have translocated rhinos from Kaziranga and Pobitora to Manas National Park

According to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, at least 209 arrests have been made regarding rhino poaching since 2008. 

Let us save rhinos

Picture Credit: Shubhobroto Ghosh (Great One-Horned Rhino in India)

There are many ways to save rhinos. People can visit national parks where rhinos live and contribute to efforts to protect them there. Most of all do not use rhino horns for any purpose whatsoever. Let us all come together to preserve the modern-day unicorn that is a marvel of evolution.