Outrage over 'horrific' India Assam rhino attack
- 26 September 2012
- From the section India
Wildlife authorities are appalled about a "shocking attack" on a rare one-horned rhino by suspected poachers in the flood-hit Indian state of Assam.
The rhino was wounded when shot and had its horn cut off after it wandered out of Kaziranga national park, which has been inundated by flood waters.
The floods in the state have forced two million to flee their homes and killed 18 people, disaster officials say.
TV footage of the animal has sparked outrage in Assam.
The state is home to the largest population of the one-horned rhinos.
Vets are desperately trying to save the stricken animal, officials said.
Much of Kaziranga national park, home to nearly two-thirds of the world's remaining one-horned rhinos, has been flooded for the second time in three months after heavy rains.
Two rhinos and at least a dozen other animals, mostly deer, have drowned in the flood waters.
The rhino was one of many animals that moved to higher ground to escape the deluge.
Guards lost track of it as it approached an elevated highway out of the park, Assam's Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Chand told the Associated Press news agency.
The rhino was then shot by a group of poachers who afterwards cut off its horn, Mr Chand said.
"It is a sad day for Assam. I am appalled at the fact that poachers could get away with the horn of a live rhino," Somyadeep Dutta, an environmentalist, said.
Reports say 13 rhinos have been killed by poachers around the park in the past nine months.
The July floods killed at least 559 animals, including 14 one-horned rhinos, in the park.
The Assam State Disaster Management Authority says that seven people are missing in the floods in addition to those killed.
They have warned that the Brahmaputra river is over-flowing, with more than half of the state's 27 districts under water.
The state's main city of Guwahati is also in imminent danger of being flooded, officials say.
On Tuesday officials said that nearly 1.5 million people in Assam had been forced to leave their homes.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has authorised the use of helicopters and boats to step up the relief operation. Officials say that the priority now is to rescue stranded people and provide food and medicine to those who have lost their homes.