Two weeks ago, we proudly announced the birth of two new Indian rhinos in Manas National Park as part of Indian Rhino Vision 2020 program. Today, we share the sad news that the mother of one the new calves, Rhino 17, was gunned down last week, her horn removed by poachers. We are outraged at this loss – this is the third translocated rhino killed in the past six months. The two week-old male calf, who was missing for a day, survived the attack and was found dehydrated and traumatized near its mother’s body. The calf has since been transferred to a facility for hand-rearing.
IRF and partners have decided the most responsible and safest course of action is to immediately capture the remaining 17 rhinos and place them into large ‘bomas’ (pens) with around-the-clock security until the poaching situation can be brought under control.
Within the next two weeks, we will construct at least seven bomas in the park. Once construction is finished, the remaining rhinos will be immobilized and moved to the bomas for safety. To prevent fighting, males will be housed separately, with females and calves in one large boma (as they do not tend to fight). Each animal’s radiocollar will be refitted with new transmitters and batteries; those animals without collars will receive them. This will allow us to track the animals once they are re-released.
While these emergency actions are taking place, IRF and its partners, WWF-India, the Bodo Territorial Council and the USFWS, are putting pressure on high level government officials to implement agreed-upon security measures for Manas National Park, with staff accountability and a renewed effort by the park authorities to safeguard these precious animals.
Rhinos across Africa and India are being killed at unprecedented rates to feed the global black market for rhino horn, which has long been used in traditional Asian medicine as a fever reducer. In recent years, a new market has emerged in Vietnam, where it is marketed as a miracle cure for everything from cancer to hangovers, all without a medical or scientific basis. Vietnam has done little to enforce its laws or its commitments as a signatory to the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Some experts have proposed trade sanctions against Vietnam until it begins to effectively deal with its burgeoning wildlife crime.