An adult male rhino was allegedly killed by some unidentified persons and its horn sawn off in Kaziranga National Park, the second killing in a week, Park sources said on Monday.
Upon hearing gun shots on Saturday night, forest guards launched a search operation on Sunday and found the carcass of the rhino near Gobrai camp under Kohora Range here, Park sources said.
The security forces saw a boat on a river inside the park with a freshly cut rhino horn, an axe, a 303 rifle, food items and some clothes, the sources said.
On seeing the forest guards, three poachers started exchanging fire for about 20 minutes before they were seriously injured and jumped into the river to escape, the sources said.
Two of the poachers were suspected to have been killed and a search was launched to recover their bodies and to apprehend the third one who escaped, they added.
The rhino horn recovered from the boat was suspected to have been sawn off from the slain rhino but investigations are on.
This is the eighth rhino to be killed this year and second in a week when a male adult rhino was shot dead and its horn taken away by poachers on March 19.
Meanwhile, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists barged into the office complex of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam on Monday demanding a halt to unabated killing of the pride of Assam in the state.
However, the activists were caned after their entry into the compound of the PCCF office and not allowed to enter the office building, police said.