Kaziranga National Park, Assam: A week ago, four poachers were arrested from a highway near Kaziranga National Park's Burapahar Range, which has seen the maximum number of killings of the endangered one-horned rhino.
Along with the poachers, three forest guards were also arrested. In November last year, these guards, who are paid by the Assam government, allegedly got together with the four poachers and killed a rhino. They then took off its horn, a lucrative commodity worth millions in the grey market, and buried the rhino right next to a forest camp within the park.
The Assam Police, which routinely checks cars crossing the road near the park, recovered a rhino horn recently, leading to the arrests.
The arrest comes across as a rare incident. Only three other forest guards have been arrested in the last five years. "It is unfortunate that some of our staff members are also involved. We are screening entire staff and if other links are found, there will be more arrests", said M Fakhruddin Ali, Director of the Kaziranga National Park.
In the last three years, over 200 poachers have been arrested but the poaching incidents have been rampant. Since 2010, about 100 rhinos have been killed.
Hours after British Royal couple Prince William and Kate's visit to the national park in April, a male rhino was shot dead using AK 47 rifles.
The incident prompted the Assam government to intensify their crackdown on poachers and investigate whether forest guards are providing logistics and ammunition to poachers.