Despite a shoot-at-sight order, poachers killed another endangered one-horned rhinoceros in Assam's Kaziranga National Park and took away its horn, officials said on Friday.
This was tenth such killing in the area since January though close to 400 Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) commandos are deployed in the park.
The carcass of the male rhino, suspected to have been killed on Thursday evening, was found in the Agaratoli forest range. They said the rhino was hit by seven bullets of a .303 rifle.
Park Director NK Vasu said the guards had an encounter with the poachers but they managed to take advantage of the darkness and escape unhurt with the rhino horn.
The poaching took place just two km from Arikati anti-poaching camp in the forest, officials said.
"The guards heard gunshots and launched an operation. However, the operation was suspended after dark and resumed this morning," Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Suresh Chand said.
Besides forest guards and field officers, 370 personnel of elite AFPF are in the park since the beginning of this year. Another 150 AFPF personnel are likely to arrive at the park.
"The number of poachers has gone up due to huge demands for rhino horns in the international market. Groups involved in the trade of wild animal parts have pumped in huge money to procure horns," said Vasu.
He said there was need to find out the reason behind the sudden rise in the demand for rhino horns.
"There have been attempts by poachers to enter the park and kill rhinos every day," he said.
This is the 10th rhino killed in the park and its adjoining forests in the last two months.
Last year, over 40 rhinos died in various protected areas of Assam. While at least 12 of them were poached, over 30 died in three waves of floods that swept through the state.