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Guwahati: Amid the COVID-19 crisis, another tragedy stuck Assam after a carcass of an adult male rhino with its horn hacked off was discovered at Kaziranga National Park on Saturday.

A total of eight empty shells of AK-47 rifle were recovered from the spot, which led the forest officials to believe that the rhino was gunned down by poachers about two-three days ago. Park officials also stated that this is the first case of the usage of AK-47 rifles to kill rhinos; hence only trained groups who know how to handle such arms can do such kind of poaching.

Speaking with EastMojo, Kaziranga DFO Ramesh Gogoi said, “It might take some time in identifying the miscreants.”

Forrest officials stated that the case came after a gap of almost 13 months in rhino killings as there had been no such instance in the 430 sq km park since April 1 last year. The carcass was found in the Agartoli Range which is situated on the eastern side of the national park and is already famous for the sighting of both elephants and rhinos.

There are approximately 3,500 rhinos in Northeast India, of which around 2,400 are found in Kaziranga National Park, according to data by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

This could also be the first of many cases of rhino poaching in India since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. There have been reports of increased rhino poaching cases in parts of Africa as a lack of tourists as well as the guides and guards that accompany them results to fewer people monitoring the wildlife. However, Kaziranga officials are on high alert as they are already following stringent check-ups due to the reports of swine fever that is affecting domestic and wild pigs in the state.

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