NOIDA: As many as 102 one-horned rhinoceros have been poached and killed in the country since 2008 and 209 poachers arrested for the crime, according to data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The maximum killings of 84 one-horned rhinoceros have been reported from Assam, according to data provided by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are the only two states which have reported such killings, with 17 and one deaths, respectively, during the period, according to data.
Noida-based lawyer Ranjan Tomar had sought state-wise data on the number of one-horned rhinos killed by poachers in the last 10 years and offenders arrest from the WCCB, a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country.
"As per data available in the records of the bureau based on the information from the state forest and police departments, 102 one-horned rhinos have been killed and 209 poachers have been arrested in the last 10 years in India," the WCCB said in a written reply.
Tomar had also sought to know the estimated monetary value of body parts of the rhinos killed by poachers during the period, to which the bureau said it does not maintain such data.
A year-wise analysis of the data shows that the maximum such killings took place in 2013 and 2014 (22 each year), followed by 11 in 2010, eight in 2015 and 2009, seven in 2011, 2012 and 2018, five in 2016, three in 2008 and two in 2017.
The Indian rhino or the Greater one-horned rhino, are found in the Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam, according to the NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India.
The total population of the one-horned rhino, the fourth largest land animal, is 3,500 in India and Nepal combined, the WWF states on its website.
Tomar said that official response suggests there is a need for stricter implementation of the law from the Centre and the states to ensure zero poaching and killings of the one-horned rhino, whose existence falls in the "vulnerable" category.
"Also, the findings reveal that the habitat of the rhinos has shrunk over a period and it is now found only in these regions, which again is a worrisome finding," the 30-year-old social activist told PTI.
"One good thing is that the number of killings has come down in the last few years from 22 each in 2013 and 2014.
However, there is a need for conservators to step up action and check such killings," he added.