India using drones to protect rhinos from poachers

GAUHATI, India — Wildlife authorities are using aerial drones to oversee a sprawling natural game park in northeastern India to protect the one-horned rhinoceros from armed poachers.

Security officers conducted flights of the unmanned aircraft over the Kaziranga National Park on Monday and will fly drones at regular intervals to prevent rampant poaching in the park in the remote Indian state of Assam.

The drones are equipped with cameras and will be monitored by security guards, who find it difficult to guard the whole 480-square kilometer (185-square mile) reserve.

“Regular operations of the unmanned aerial vehicles will begin once we get the nod of the Indian defense ministry,” said Rokybul Hussain, the state’s forest and environment minister.

The drones will also be useful during the annual monsoon season when large areas in the Kaziranga reserve are flooded by the mighty Brahmaputra River and three other rivers that flow through the game park, park officials said.

Hussain said the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s equivalent of the FBI, will soon begin investigations into the steep rise in rhino poaching this year.

Poachers armed with automatic rifles killed 22 rhinos last year, but have killed 16 rhinos already this year.

Rhino horn is in great demand in China and Southeast Asia where it is believed to have medicinal properties.

A rhino census conducted in Kaziranga reserve two weeks ago put their number at 2,329, up from 2,290 in 2012.

In recent weeks, wildlife authorities in Assam have deployed 300 armed guards to protect the rhinos in Kaziranga but they have been no match for organized gangs of poachers who have been managing to strike at the rhinos with increasing regularity.

“What worries us is the use of automatic weapons like Kalashnikovs by the poachers,” said Assam police chief Jayanta Narayan Choudhury.

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Most Read