The population of the one-horned rhinoceros in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park has risen marginally by 12 to 2,413, according to the 2018 census. This is a much lower increase than the 111 rise the 2015 census recorded, the Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.
The census was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday. Authorities said they came to a lower count this time because they could not burn the tall grass in the region to spot the animals – only 20% of the vegetation could be burnt as compared to the 60% to 70% every year. Enumerators who were part of the census suggested they may carry out another count next year after reviewing the field conditions that are essential to ascertain the rhino population, according to News 18.
“Given various factors, this [the rise in rhino population] is plus or minus 100,” Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden, NK Vasu, told The New Indian Express.
The one-horned rhino is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Kaziranga – a Unesco World Heritage Site – is home to the largest population of the animal in the world.
Despite the security measures in place, rhinos get poached in the national park and several also die in the floods in Assam every year. The rhino horn is smuggled through Nagaland and Manipur into South East Asian countries, where it is considered an aphrodisiac. One horn could fetch around Rs 1 crore in the international black market.