GUWAHATI: The rhino population at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam is estimated to be 2,413, a two-day census carried out on March 27-28 has revealed.
In the last census conducted in 2015, the herbivore's population in the park was 2,401. So, it has been an increase of 12.
“Following the latest count, the rhino population in Kaziranga is estimated to be 2,413. Given various factors, this is plus or minus 100,” Assam's Chief Wildlife Warden, NK Vasu, told The New Indian Express.
The grass in the park is burnt every year for renewal of the low-lying vegetation. The sighting of perceived fewer rhinos in the latest count is being attributed to poor burning of grasses and reeds.
Only around 20 per cent of the grasses and reeds could be burned while the plan was to cover 60-70 per cent of it. There is a suspicion that many rhinos were inside thick and inaccessible jungles and they got left out of the count. At the same time, there is also a perception of some animals being counted more than once.
According to latest estimates, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has 1,641 adult rhinos. Of them, 642 are males, 793 females and 206 "un-sexed" (their gender is yet to be determined).
The population of sub-adult rhinos (aged between four and six years) was estimated to be 387. Of them, 116 were males, 149 females and 122 un-sexed. Calves were estimated to be 385.
Assam has an estimated 2,645 rhinos. The 434 sq km Kaziranga National Park has the highest number of the animal in the state. The Manas National Park and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary have around 100 rhinos each while the Orang National Park has around 30 rhinos.
Despite various security measures, a number of rhinos fall prey to the bullets of poachers, particularly at Kaziranga, every year. Scores others die in the annual floods.
The police claim the poachers include a section of the militants. The rhino horn is often smuggled into the South East Asian countries via Nagaland and Manipur. In the neighbouring countries, the rhino horn is considered an aphrodisiac, both for men and women. A horn could fetch Rs.1 crore from the international black market.