The carcass of a rhino was recovered in the Chilapata range of the Jaldapara Wild Life sanctuary in Jalpaiguri on Saturday.
The horn of the rhino was missing and evidently cut off. Top forest officials confirmed that this is the seventh case of rhino poaching in the Wildlife sanctuary in the past one and half years.
The seventh victim of the poachers was detected on Saturday morning when a group of forest guards were patrolling the core of the forest areas. The carcass was detected with its horn cut off from the base. It was of a full grown rhino.
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Forest officials said that the forest patrolling could not be done in the past three four days because of incessant rains and the poachers gang took advantage of this.
Poachers gang had been particularly active in the North Bengal forests for the past two years and apart from seven rhinos, at least nine tuskers have also been killed under mysterious circumstances during this period. The tusks were all removed when the carcass were detected.
Unfortunately every time the forest department lodged FIRs against unknown persons but it had evidently failed to make a breakthrough in detecting the gang members. Experienced forest officials wanting anonymity said that these are inter-state gang, operating in Assam, North East and also in North Bengal forests.
A former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests during whose regime the rhino population had registered a record growth in North Bengal forests said that a close network between forest villagers and the forest department staff was set up through joint forestry management which is no more in existence.
The rhino population in Gorumara and Jaldapara wildlife sanctuaries grew from a double digit in the early 10980s to over 250 in 2010. But form 2012 the depredation by poachers gang has begun to take a toll, he said.
The PCCF (Wild life) Azam Zaidi, said that it was a real setback for the forest officials as one more rhino fell victims to poacher’s gang. He said two persons have been detained and are being questioned.
Zaidi admitted that the rhino population in North Begal had registered a steady growth and poaching was totally stopped but now once again the forest staff are facing the challenge.
The rhinos are also straying out of the forests frequently, making it easier for the poachers to target those. “But that is no reason to shirk our responsibility. It is a difficult challenge before us,” Zaidi added.
He also said that as an immediate step, he would like to sensitize and strengthen the Wild Life Crime Control Bureau which had got the sanction of the State Wild Life Board to have dedicated teams to monitor crimes against wildlife.