Protecting rhinos need of the hour

Published on May 19, 2015 01:16:16 AM
News
Sales of illegal wildlife products are as high as $ 20 billion a year, making it the fourth most lucrative global crime -- after drugs, human trafficking and weapons, according to wildlife experts

It looks as if avarice, coupled with hankering for potions credited with powers to heal illnesses and enhance sexual prowess, would soon see the extinction of rhinoceros, going by reports that rhino horn is more valuable by weight than gold, diamond and cocaine.

Disturbing findings of a recent study by a team of international scientists suggest that illegal trade in certain animal parts has drastic implications for rhinoceroses, along with elephants, hippopota-muses and even gorillas. There is bait also for poachers who sell animal parts for consumer goods and food, according to the research, which appeared recently in online journal Science Advances.

The rhino horn in particular is thought to be a panacea and an aphro -disiac in some Asian nations. The current going rate for it is $ 60,000 a pound. Sales of illegal wildlife products are as high as $ 20 billion a year, making it the fourth most lucrative global crime -- after drugs, human trafficking and weapons, according to wildlife experts. According to them, 95 percent of the world’s rhinos have been lost in just the last four decades.

Nearer home, protective measures at Kaziranga National Park have been seriously compromised due to irregular constructions, inadequate manpower to arrest poaching and non-declaration of eco-sensitive zones. Even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had cautioned: "The dangerous trend (of irregular constructions), if not checked immediately and permanently, could lead to an irreversible impact on conservation and protection of wildlife with the potential threat that in case of a major flood, majority of internationally acclaimed species – one horned rhinos- would be wiped out, forever.”

The creation of eco-sensitive zone has been hanging fire for more than 12 years. Most of the weapons meant for the park are lying unserviceable and wildlife guards are not trained to handle the arms. Some of the arms too are old, defective, and are prone to misfire.

All of this underlines the need for immediate, enhanced protection for the endangered one-horned rhinoceros at the world heritage site of Kaziranga National Park.