Assam’s Kaziranga National Park has lost three one-horned rhinoceros to poaching since the new year began. An adult female was poached on January 12, one rhino was killed on Sunday, and another was killed around 1 am on Wednesday, authorities said. In the most recent killing, a park official said gunshots were heard after midnight and a search operation was launched immediately. In the morning, park officials recovered the carcass of a rhino with its horn missing. The species is categorised as vulnerable and its horn is extremely sought after in traditional Asian medicine markets.

Economic Times said State forest minister Atuwa Munda transferred P Buragohain, the range officer of Burhapur, where Wednesday’s poaching took place. Munda said the park is short-staffed by at least 90 members from the total strength of 500. He said he would write to the Central government to release funds for a rhinoceros protection force soon. Park officials said evidence recovered shows that M4 rifles were used, which are common weapons for militant groups in the region. While poachers are switching to more sophisticated guns, park guards still have very outdated weapons, dna reported.

Kaziranga houses the most one-horned rhinos in the world. NDTV reported that in 2013, around 2,300 of the world’s 3,300 one-horned rhinos were in Kaziranga. In 2015, 17 rhinos were killed in the park, which has fought a consistent battle against poachers. Other body parts of the animal such as its nails and skin also have a high demand.