Villagers look at a wounded endangered rhinoceros that was shot by poachers in Parku hills near Kaziranga National Park, about 250km east of Guwahati. Image Credit: AFP

Guwahati: Barely 24 hours after the gruesome incident in which poachers chopped off the horn of a live rhino after shooting at it, another pachyderm underwent a similar fate in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam on Thursday, an official said.

The latest incident took place at Burhapahar range of the Park on Thursday.

The rhino, which was shot at and its horn chopped off by suspected poachers in the wee hours of Thursday, is battling for life and forest veterinarians are attending to it.

In the wee hours of Wednesday, suspected poachers shot at a female rhino, which had strayed out of the parkon Tuesday night searching for higher ground. They also chopped off the rhino’s horn when it was still alive and left the animal profusely bleeding.

The rhino, which was attended to by veterinarians from the Kaziranga National Park is still alive, forest officials said on Thursday.

Assam’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Suresh Chand, who rushed to Kaziranga on Thursday, told IANS that both the rhinos are still alive and that the Park’s veterinarians are doing their best to treat them.

The department had already ordered an inquiry into the incident on Wednesday, he said.

Expressing serious concern over the poaching of rhinos, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who returned to the state from an official visit to Japan on Thursday, said his government will get the rhino poaching incidents probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Gogoi also announced a bounty of Rs500,000 for anyone who could help the police and other investigating agencies with information about the poachers.

The authorities at the Kaziranga National Park have drawn flak after the two back-to-back incidents involving the rare one-horned rhinos, particularly in the protected areas.

While several local pressure groups blocked National Highway No. 37 on Wednesday protesting against the failure of the forest department to protect the rare species, conservationists, wildlife NGOs and various political parties have also slammed the government over the incidents.

The BJP had on Wednesday pointed out that 292 rhinos have been killed by poachers in various places of Assam since 2001, when the Tarun Gogoi-led government took over.

The anti-talk faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), led by Paresh Baruah, also condemned the Congress government in Assam over the incidence of rhino poaching and the government’s failure to protect the one-horned rhinos — the heritage of Assam.

Most of the areas of the Kaziranga National Park — also a UNESCO World Heritage Site —have been submerged under flood waters since last week and a total of 22 small and big animals have so far died due to floods inside the park.