Brazen Poaching Of Rare Rhinoceros Species In India

poaching, rhino
Two recent poaching incidents reveal the dangers faced by India’s rare animals, even when they are supposedly under protection.

The BBC reports that a one-horned rhino was shot in Assam when it wandered out of Kaziranga National Park. Poachers took its horn but the animal did not die. Park staff are now trying to save it. The park is home to about two-thirds of the world’s population of one-horned rhinos, which number in total fewer than 3,000 individuals. Thirteen of the animals have been poached in the park in the past nine months.

On the same day, the BBC reported the poaching of a tiger in a zoo. Poachers entered the Itanagar zoo in Arunachal Pradesh and hacked a female tiger into half a dozen pieces before being scared off by the security guards, who had been away eating dinner.

The Times of India reports that several employees have been fired over the zoo incident. No arrests have been made in either crime.

Poaching is a major problem in many countries because of the high demand for animal parts as trophies and for use in traditional medicine.

[Photo courtesy Mandeep Singh]

Photo Gallery: On board Team Abu Dhabi’s VO70 at the Volvo Ocean Race

In the few days that I’ve been back from Alicante it’s been difficult for me to explain the sheer magnitude of a VO70 ocean racer to my peers. These sailboats are unlike your average Sunfish or J-105. They are massive, precision engineered creatures, optimized for weight, balance and speed. They are moving cities, with 11 men onboard, bunks, cooking and wash facilities. They’re also information superstations with a handful of remote controlled cameras, a satellite uplink and enough CAT-5 cable to impress any technophile.

At Team Abu Dhabi’s invitation we brought a team out to Alicante, Spain in late October to get a unique snapshot of the team and the race from the beginning. Days before the official launch we were out on the chilly Mediterranean waters on a practice run armed with only a handful of sailing experiences under our belt and a Canon SLR. The below gallery is what we captured.

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Sailing on the deck of a VO70 is like riding on the back of a dragon, mythical, awe inspiring and terrifying at the same time. As the ships tack and jibe back and forth near the starting line it’s eerily quiet save for the occasional shout from the skipper or the stress-groans from the carbon-fiber hull. To see this much mass and power moving in such grace is a humbling experience. To see the ships race is unforgettable.Ships leave Alicante and head towards Cape Town on the 5th of November. You can catch up with the fleet at nine other ports around the planet through the summer of next year. The full schedule is at volvooceanrace.org.

[Editor’s note: Team Gadling joined the Volvo Ocean race at the request and expense of Team Abu Dhabi. Media support made the ships sail no faster nor the writers get any wetter while on assignment.]

India’s Kaziranga National Park has world’s highest tiger population

Zoologists studying at Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, have declared that it has the greatest density of tigers in the world–32.64 per 100 square kilometers, in fact. By way of comparison, Corbett Tiger Reserve, which is in the number two slot, has “only” 19.6 per 100 square kilometers.

Park officials say there’s such a healthy population because of the large amount of tasty wildlife such as deer and buffalo for the tigers to eat, as can be seen in this amazing slide show from the BBC. Less edible for tigers but equally interesting to visitors are the rare Indian Rhinos, of which two-thirds of the world’s population live in the park.

Kaziranga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for safaris. Visitors can ride an elephant through forest and grassland in order to spot the diverse population of animals and birds.

It’s wise to remember that wildlife is truly wild. Back in April a Dutch tourist was trampled to death by a wild elephant at Kaziranga. The park also has large numbers of King Cobra, the longest venomous snake in the world. Acting with caution and listening to your guide will keep you safe from most dangers, however.